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Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts 
Jon Woronoff, Series Editor 

1. Science Fiction Literature , by Brian Stableford, 2004. 

2. Hong Kong Cinema , by Lisa Odham Stokes, 2007. 

3. American Radio Soap Operas, by Jim Cox, 2005. 

4. Japanese Traditional Theatre , by Samuel L. Leiter, 2006. 

5. Fantasy Literature , by Brian Stableford, 2005. 

6. Australian and New Zealand Cinema, by Albert Moran and 
Errol Vieth, 2006. 

7. African-American Television, by Kathleen Feam-Banks, 2006. 

8. Lesbian Literature, by Meredith Miller, 2006. 

9. Scandinavian Literature and Theater , by Jan Sjavik, 2006. 

10. British Radio , by Sean Street, 2006. 

11. German Theater, by William Grange, 2006. 

12. African American Cinema, by S. Torriano Berry and Venise Berry, 


13. Sacred Music, by Joseph P. Swain, 2006. 

14. Russian Theater, by Laurence Senelick, 2007. 

15. French Cinema, by Dayna Oscherwitz and MaryEllen Higgins, 


16. Postmodernist Literature and Theater, by Fran Mason, 2007. 

17. Irish Cinema, by Roderick Flynn and Pat Brereton, 2007. 

18. Australian Radio and Television, by Albert Moran and Chris Keat- 
ing, 2007. 

19. Polish Cinema, by Marek Haltof, 2007. 

20. Old Time Radio, by Robert C. Reinehr and Jon D. Swartz, 2008. 

21. Renaissance Art, by Lilian H. Zirpolo, 2008. 

22. Broadway Musical, by William A. Everett and Paul R. Laird, 


23. American Theater: Modernism, by James Fisher and Felicia Hardi- 
son Londre, 2008. 

24. German Cinema, by Robert C. Reimer and Carol J. Reimer, 2008. 

25. Horror Cinema, by Peter Hutchings, 2008. 

26. Westerns in Cinema, by Paul Varner, 2008. 

27. Chinese Theater, by Tan Ye, 2008. 

28. Italian Cinema, by Gino Moliterno, 2008. 

29. Architecture, by Allison Lee Palmer, 2008. 

30. Russian and Soviet Cinema, by Peter Rollberg, 2008. 

31. African American Theater, by Anthony D. Hill, 2009. 

32. Postwar German Literature , by William Grange, 2009. 

33. Modern Japanese Literature and Theater, by J. Scott Miller, 


34. Animation and Cartoons, by Nichola Dobson, 2009. 

35. Modern Chinese Literature, by Li-hua Ying, 2010. 

36. Middle Eastern Cinema, by Terri Ginsberg and Chris Lippard, 

2010 . 

Historical Dictionary of 
Middle Eastern Cinema 

Terri Ginsberg 
Chris Lippard 

With contributions by: Farshad Aminian, Savas Arslan, 
Sandra G. Carter, Anne Ciecko, Gayatri Devi, Iman Hamam, 
Helga Tawil-Souri, Mark R. Westmoreland 

Historical Dictionaries of Literature 
and the Arts, No. 36 

The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 
Lanham • Toronto • Plymouth, UK 

Published by Scarecrow Press, Inc. 

A wholly owned subsidiary of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanharn, Maryland 20706 

Estover Road, Plymouth PL6 7PY, United Kingdom 

Copyright © 2010 by Terri Ginsberg and Chris Lippard 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by 
any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval 
systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who 
may quote passages in a review. 

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Ginsberg, Terri. 

Historical dictionary of Middle Eastern cinema / Terri Ginsberg, Chris Lippard. 

p. cm. — (Historical dictionaries of literature and the arts ; 36) 

Includes filmography. 

Includes bibliographical references. 

ISBN 978-0-8108-6090-2 (cloth : alk. paper) - ISBN 978-0-8108-7364-3 

1. Motion pictures — Middle East — Dictionaries. I. Lippard, Chris. II. Title. 
PN1993.5.M53G56 2010 
791.4303— dc22 


6c) ™ 

W The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of 
American National Standard for Information Sciences — Permanence of Paper 
for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. 

Printed in the United States of America 


Editor’s Foreword (Jon Woronoff) 




Reader’s Note 


Acronyms and Abbreviations 












About the Authors 


About the Contributors 


Editor's Foreword 

No region has faced more adversity over the past half century or so 
than the Middle East: foreign colonization, the struggle for liberation, 
often followed by coups d’etat, revolutions, international and civil wars, 
repressive government, economic problems (obviously not for the oil 
producers), generational and gender conflicts, and more. To this must 
be added the “isms”: nationalism, socialism, neoliberal capitalism, 
orientalism, Islamism, and Zionism, as well as the more general bane 
of censorship. This is certainly not a conducive atmosphere for cinema 
to flourish ... or is it? These challenges have compelled its directors, 
producers, actors, and others to try harder. In many cases, they have 
succeeded in overcoming all adversity and producing excellent films, 
and when that was not possible, impressive documentaries in their re- 
spective countries, and abroad. Knowing their own people better, they 
have even produced works that overcome the encroachment of Holly- 
wood and Bollywood and encourage nationals to think more seriously 
about their own societies. This could be the main strength of Middle 
Eastern cinema; it deals seriously with serious issues, although as else- 
where— and given the need for escapism— it also produces comedies, 
farces, adventure films, and even some relatively “naughty” films. 

The authors of Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema have 
certainly done an exceptional job of exploring and explaining one of 
the least-known areas of cinema, but one that certainly deserves to be 
known better. As in other books in this series, this book sets the scene 
with a chronology, one longer and more extensive than one might ex- 
pect, and then an introduction, which is certainly more complex than 
most. But the bulk of the material is contained in a dictionary section 
full of informative entries on the various countries concerned and the 
composite regions; their directors, producers, and actors; dozens of the 
better films; most of the genres; and many of the themes, from exile to 



gender and sexuality. Other entries deal with significant political lead- 
ers and events, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Defeat, and the 
Iraq War, which have generated films. And mention is also made of 
film schools, festivals, and currents, such as New Realism and Third 
Cinema. In short, the field of cinema is studied from many different 
angles, and it would not be easy to find more in a smaller space. Finally, 
for those who want to learn more, there is a bibliography with further 
reading on cinema in the region and in each part as well. Nor should one 
forget the amazingly long filmography. 

Considering that this volume covers 18 different national cinemas, it 
could not have been written as competently as has been done without 
the participation of a team of contributors, each specialized in certain 
aspects and countries, and two editors who coordinated the work and 
produced parts of the manuscript themselves. The contributors are Far- 
shad Aminian, Sava§ Arslan, Sandra G. Carter, Anne Ciecko, Gayatri 
Devi, Iman Hamam, Helga Tawil-Souri, and Mark R. Westmoreland. 
The two editors, who both selected the various contributors and made 
contributions of their own, are Terri Ginsberg and Chris Lippard. This 
able and diligent team certainly deserves a vote of thanks for having 
created an essential reference tool for anyone interested in Middle East- 
ern cinema or the Middle East in general. 

Jon Woronoff 
Series Editor 


This volume covers the production and exhibition of cinema in the 
Middle East and in exilic and diasporic communities whose heritage 
is from the region and whose films commonly reflect this background. 
Much of the Middle East consists of the Arab-Muslim world, stretch- 
ing from Morocco in North Africa (the “Maghreb”), to the United Arab 
Emirates (U.A.E.) in the west, and to Iraq in the east and northeast 
(both in southwest Asia, or the “Mashreq”). In addition, it includes the 
non- Arab states of Turkey and Iran, as well as the Jewish state of Israel. 
Although we include an entry on Afghanistan, this is largely in view of 
its interrelationship with Iran; likewise, an entry on Western Sahara has 
been included for that region’s interrelationship with Morocco; and an 
entry is provided on Kurdistan in light of that region’s interrelationships 
with Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. The history and current position of cinema 
in each of these countries is different, and the cinema of the Middle East 
covers a remarkably diverse range of topics and aesthetic approaches. 
With minor exceptions, however. Middle Eastern films are some of the 
least-known to audiences and scholars outside the region, their global 
distribution and exhibition being limited largely to international film 
festivals in major urban centers. In some instances, for example, Syria, 
where rarely more than three films per year are produced, they have 
hardly been seen. This is a pity, because the quality and breadth of 
much Middle Eastern cinema is undeniable. 

We cannot expect a volume such as this to address fully all the impli- 
cations raised by the geographical and political constraints of the above, 
but we do firmly believe that the Historical Dictionary of Middle East- 
ern Cinema will provide a useful resource to support inquiry and analy- 
sis of the ways in which Middle Easterners have depicted themselves, 
their societies, and histories on film. Although the volume does lend 



minor attention to North American and European depictions of the re- 
gion and its peoples, which have often repeated the long tradition of ori- 
entalism that variously discredits or demeans its subject, this is not our 
emphasis: we assume that a majority of our readers will have encoun- 
tered that “Middle East” in popular Hollywood films about the region, 
and perhaps in the Western media more broadly speaking. In fact, the 
Middle East is a part of the world that remains poorly understood, and 
we believe that examining the aesthetic quality and intellectual breadth 
of its cinema can supply a powerful means toward helping change that. 
We have tried to emphasize, in the difficult process of deciding what 
to include, material that may be available to our readers; nevertheless, 
much Middle Eastern cinema is regrettably inaccessible, and we can 
only hope that publicizing such films will contribute to improving 
the likelihood of their future dissemination. Comprehensiveness is an 
impossible and, perhaps, undesirable goal, so we have endeavored to 
choose significant films, directors, performers, production agencies, 
exhibition venues, cinematic organizations, and pertinent historical and 
political figures, events, and sociocultural practices that, together, pro- 
vide a representative image of Middle Eastern cinema. 

Very broadly, two distinct, but frequently overlapping, categories 
of filmmaking are traceable throughout the entries: industrial and au- 
teurist. In the former, the dominant determinant of style and subject is 
the system of relations and conditions of production, both local and 
international; in the latter, it is the individual— or independent collec- 
tive-working within and/or against that system and its transnational 
parameters. In most Middle Eastern countries, both categories of film- 
making have, at least periodically, existed simultaneously. Perhaps 
paradoxically, the films most widely available and seen in some of 
these countries— Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Israel, for instance— are 
those least likely to be distributed to foreign audiences — and probably 
the least geared to their tastes. It has been argued, on one hand, that 
such industry genre films, meant to attract large domestic audiences in 
their countries of origin and typically screened less frequently outside 
them, are more “true” to their particular national cultures than are films 
distributed largely internationally (auteur and/or festival cinema). For 
Middle East cultural critic Walter Armbrust, for example, art-cinema 
funding and the pull of Western(ized) film festival exhibition venues 
serve to disguise the cultural richness of the popular Egyptian cinema. 


Roy Armes, on the other hand, argues that the rejection or transforma- 
tive revision of genre cinema provides the best evidence of national- 
cultural “authenticity.” This debate reflects the important work of 
Cuban theorist and filmmaker Julio Garcia Espinosa, whose writings 
address the nature and character of the films that might be made in Cuba 
following the revolution. Garcia Espinosa establishes a distinction be- 
tween a popular cinema that emanates from and articulates the people’s 
concerns, and a mass cinema that is a commodified product drawing 
on stereotypes and aiming at a presumed lowest common denominator 
ultimately remote from those concerns. Armbrust is inclined to see the 
potential for studio-based genre cinema to push away from the latter 
toward the former; Armes less so. 

With these debates in mind, we have developed a historical diction- 
ary that includes a larger proportion of entries regarding the popular 
industry cinemas of Egypt and Turkey (Ye§il§am) than regarding those 
countries’ independent cinemas; such commercial, if occasionally 
“quality” or auteur, products constitute these countries’ more signifi- 
cant cinematic contributions nationally and regionally, and while there- 
fore canonically central, have received limited exposure beyond the 
Middle East. However, the volume also includes a larger proportion of 
entries regarding the independent cinemas of Iran, Lebanon, and Israel 
than regarding the industry cinemas in those countries; these auteur and 
independent works also constitute, we postulate, their countries’ more 
significant cinematic contributions, but they have frequently received 
more attention internationally than at home— due both to exilic and 
diasporic filmmaking conditions and to political restrictions involving 
censorship. The relative importance of Palestinian cinema to its national 
liberation struggle is duly represented, as is the predominance of art- 
cinema production in the Maghreb — notwithstanding, indeed in light 
of, the continued necessity of European funding— as well as the quite 
different structural constraints of the Syrian and Iraqi cinemas. The dif- 
ficult, transnational mixture of industry and auteur production, albeit 
much of it emergent, in Iraq, Jordan, and the Gulf states, including 
Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and Yemen, is represented, as is the phenom- 
enon of exilic-diasporic, minority, and women’s filmmaking connected 
to each and every Middle Eastern country. We also cover the range 
of cinematic modes, from documentary to fiction, representational to 
animation, generic to experimental, mainstream to avant-garde, and 


entertainment to propaganda. These entries are supplemented by those 
on general concepts (colonialism, pan-Arabism, transnationalism), 
historical events (Iranian Revolution, Lebanese Civil War, Nakba), po- 
litical figures (Arafat, Khomeini, Nasser), and, of course, the pertinent 
countries-regions themselves. 

It is always difficult to know what the future holds in cinema: 20 years 
ago, there were many predictions for its worldwide demise; they have 
proven unwarranted. As certain national cinemas flourish and others 
struggle (for example, the current tendencies in Morocco and Algeria, 
respectively), centers of interest, innovation, and development in the 
cinemas of the Middle East will undoubtedly change. If national cin- 
emas are able to resist Hollywood penetration and to attract substantial 
domestic audiences, as is currently happening in Turkey, then national 
concerns may be explored in greater depth and breadth; on the other 
hand, today’s interlinked global world surely conditions the likelihood 
that all new cinema produced in the region will be consequent upon and 
reflective of transnational concerns. Cultural analysis of these cinemas, 
meanwhile, starting from sociological and anthropological bases (the 
work of Armbrust on Egypt, and Kevin Dwyer on the Maghreb), as 
well as those trained primarily in film (Viola Shafik, Hamid Naficy, 
and many others), should grow under the influence of younger scholars, 
including those who have participated in the production of this volume. 
The latter are Farshad Aminian (Iran), Savas Arslan (Turkey), Sandra 
Carter (Maghreb), Anne Ciecko (Jordan, Gulf states, Yemen), Gayatri 
Devi (Iran, Palestine), Iman Hamam (Egypt), Helga Tawil-Souri (Pal- 
estine), and Mark Westmoreland (Lebanon). We thank them for con- 
tributing their expertise in the various cinemas of the Middle East. We 
ourselves have contributed the general entries and additional material, 
as well as entries on the following: Terri Ginsberg (Egypt, Iraq, Israel, 
Maghreb, Syria); Chris Lippard (Egypt, Iran, Maghreb). 

Several of us first met through the activities of the Middle East- 
ern Caucus of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and we 
wish to thank, especially, Hamid Naficy for his outstanding support 
for new researchers in the field. Dorit Naaman, who kept the caucus 
afloat through lean, under-attended years, also deserves our thanks. 
In addition, we extend our appreciation to the following people who 
have helped us by reading draft entries, contributing information, or 
facilitating connections: Leonardo Alishan, Alia Arasoughly, Nirit 


Ben-Ari, Kay Dickinson, Mushira Eid, Fouad Elkoury, Kristen Fitz- 
patrick at Women Make Movies, Suzanne Gauch, Emma Hedditch at 
Cinenova, Tareq Ismael, Lina Khatib, Robert Lang, Peter Limbrick, 
Rashid Masharawi, Laura Marx, Touraj Noroozi, Darby Orcutt, Abdel 
Salem Shehada, Peter Sluglett, Ashkan Soltani, Sara Harris Thum, 
Alex Williams at Typecast/ Arab Film Distribution, Wanda vanderStoop 
at Vtape, and Nadia Yaqub. From Scarecrow Press, we thank April 
Snider for her invaluable administrative support, Andrew Yoder for his 
exceptional editorial prowess, and Jon Woronoff, the general editor of 
this series, who showed great patience, acumen, and understanding as 
we negotiated the various issues of form and substance raised by this 
project over the course of its production. Finally, we thank our partners, 
Robin Mendelwager and Tiffany Rousculp, who have sacrificed their 
time to our immersion in this volume. We thank them unreservedly for 
their love and support. 

Tend Ginsberg 
New York City, 

New York, USA 

Chris Lippard 
University of Utah 
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 

September 2009 

Reader's Note 

The Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema is arranged alpha- 
betically, with text in bold indicating cross-references to other entries, 
both within and beyond specific national-geographical boundaries, 
thus mirroring the national, transnational, and international origins and 
breadth, and the structural parameters and contradictions, of the subject. 
Included in addition to the alphabetized entries are a chronology of 
significant events marking the approximate 100-year history of Middle 
Eastern cinema, a filmography of titles referenced throughout these 
pages, a bibliography of useful scholarly texts and reviews — arranged 
by region and country— that inform the material, thinking, and research 
contained in this volume, and a list of acronyms and abbreviations for 
the numerous organizations and agencies also referenced. 

Insofar as the great majority of the films discussed in this volume 
hail from the Middle East, they have been produced in languages other 
than English. Many are in Arabic, a language that varies considerably 
across the region, while the Iranian and Turkish films are in the national 
languages, Persian (or Farsi) and Turkish, respectively. Most Israeli 
films are in Hebrew, while some films from Lebanon and the Maghreb 
are in French, as are most of the diasporic films referred to collectively 
as bear cinema. Similarly, films of the Turkish diaspora are frequently 
produced in German. Other languages heard in Middle Eastern cinema 
that are not associated with particular states are Kurdish and Berber/ 

English transliterations of film titles and the names of individuals in 
those covered languages which do not use the Roman alphabet (namely, 
Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Kurdish, and Tamazight) vary considerably. 
Whereas all film titles are listed in the entries to this historical diction- 
ary in their English translations, the filmography also supplies those 
titles in transliteration. In choosing which transliteration systems to 



adopt, we have tried to adhere as closely and consistently as possible to 
the most commonly utilized spellings and translations in scholarly texts 
and in regional and dialectical contexts. Thus, we have, for instance, 
generally tried to follow Egyptian vernacular usage in the translitera- 
tions of Arabic titles from that country, and the Levantine vernacular 
usage in the transliterations of Arabic titles from Palestine. The glottal 
stop signified by the hamza is indicated with a diacritical and by the 
ayn with a ‘. Maghrebi film titles in Arabic are transliterated according 
to their preponderant Francophone spellings. The filmography lists all 
non-English-language films in alphabetical order according to the most 
commonly used English title, with non-English (and alternative English 
language) titles in parentheses. 

The Arabic definite article markers, “el-” (mostly Egyptian figures) 
and “al-,” are common, and the entries for individuals whose names be- 
gin with them should be sought under those markers. Thus, the famous 
Egyptian comic, Naguib El-Rihani, is to be found under “E”— rather 
than “R.” 

Often a key non-English word used in the text of an entry (e.g., hijab ) 
will appear first in italics, transliterated when appropriate, and followed 
by the English translation parenthesized and in quotation marks. Subse- 
quently in that entry, only the non-English word or transliteration will 
be used. If a non-English word has acquired common usage in Anglo- 
phone contexts (e.g., “Nakba”), it will appear in the entry first in italics, 
while subsequently the italics will be dropped. In other instances, non- 
English words simply follow their English translations, italicized and in 
parentheses. Non-English names of organizations and agencies are not 
differentiated with italics, and, excepting entry titles, their translations 
are only to be found in the Acronyms and Abbreviations section. 

Acronyms and Abbreviations 


















Arab Film Distribution 
Arab Image Foundation 
British Broadcasting Corporation 
Bethlehem Media Center 

Centre Algerien pour Part et l’industrie cinemato- 
graphiques / Algerian Center for Cinematic Art and 

Centre cinematographique Marocain / Center for Mo- 
roccan Cinema 

Centre national du cinema / National Cinema Center 
Cable News Network 
Central Zionist Archive 

Entreprise nationale de distribution et d’ exploitation 
cinematographiques / National Company for Cinema- 
tic Distribution and Exhibition 

Entreprise nationale de production cinematographi- 
que / National Company for Cinematic Production 
Farabi Cinema Foundation 

Fondation Europeene pour les metiers de P image et 
du son / European Foundation for Image and Sound 

Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouaga- 

International Critics Prize (Cannes Film Festival, 

Front de Fiberation Nationale / National Fiberation 

Federal Republic of Germany / Bundesrepublik Deuts- 































Federation Tunisienne des cine-clubs / Tunisian Fede- 
ration of Cinema-clubs 
General Organization of Cinema and Theater 
International Center of Bethlehem (Dar Annadwa Ad- 

Israel Defense Forces 

Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children 
and Young Adults (Kanoon) 

Institut national du cinema / National Institute of Ci- 

Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association 

International Solidarity Movement 

Journees cinematographiques de Carthage / Carthage 

Film Festival 

Jewish National Fund 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 

Lebanese National Movement 

Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance 

Makhmalbaf Film House 

National Film Organization 

National Iranian Film Society 

National Iranian Oil Company 

New York University 

Office des actualites Algeriennes / Office of Algerian 

Office national pour le commerce et Findustrie ci- 
nematographiques / Office for Cinematic Commerce 
and Industry 

Occupied Palestinian Territories 

Palestine Film Foundation; Palestine Foundation 


Palestinian Authority 

Palestinian Audio-Visual Programme 

Palestinian Film Foundation 

Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan / Kurdistan Workers 

Palestine Liberation Organization 
Television Fran§aise 1 



Royal Film Commission 


Radiodiffusion Television Algerienne 


Societe anonyme Tunisienne de production et d’ex- 
pansion cinematographiques / Tunisian Society for 
Cinematic Production and Expansion 


Sazeman-e Ettela’at Va Amniyat-e Keshvar / Natio- 
nal Intelligence and Security Organization 


Society for Cinema and Media Studies 


Societe Francaisc de Production / French Production 


School of Oriental and African Studies 


United Arab Emirates 


United Arab Republic 


University of California, Los Angeles 


United Nations 


United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural 


United Nations Relief and Works Agency (for Pales- 
tinian Refugees in the Near East) 


Vserossiiskii Gosudarstvenngi Institut Kinematografi 
/ Russian State Institute of Cinematography 


1896 Egypt: The first Lumiere screenings take place in the Bourse 
Tousson Pasha and the Zawani cafe (Alexandria), and in the Hamam 
Schneider (Cairo). 

1897 Tunisia: The first North African film screenings of Lumiere 
films are held in Tunis, facilitated by Albert Samama Chikly. 

1896 Turkey: The first film exhibitions in Turkey are held in Istan- 
bul, capital of the Ottoman Empire. 

1900 Iran: Iranian cinema may be said to begin with the filming of 
Muzaffared Shah’s trip to Ostend, Belgium, in 1900, as recorded on a 
newly purchased camera by court photographer, Mirza Ebrahim Khan 

1901 Israel: The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is founded to raise 
money for the establishment and maintenance of a Jewish state in the 
Levant; it supports the production of newsreels and documentaries to 
propagate that agenda. 

1905-1911 Iran: The Qajar dynasty crumbles in the face of a Con- 
stitutional Revolution. 

1908 Tunisia: Albert Samama Chikly opens the first cinema in the 
Maghreb, in Tunis. 

1911 Turkey: The Manaki(a) brothers, both Ottoman citizens, film 
Sultan Re gat Mehmet V’s visit to Salonica and Bitola. 

1914 Turkey: World War I begins in Europe, taking on a Middle 
Eastern dimension when the Ottoman Empire joins Germany. Fuat 
Uzkinay films the first purported Turkish film. The Demolition of the 
Russian Monument in Hagia Stephanos. 



1916 The Sykes-Picot Agreement is signed, dividing much of the 
Middle East between British and French spheres of influence. 

1917 Egypt: The Italo-Egyptian Cinematographic Company is estab- 
lished by photographer Umberto Dores and others; their films were un- 
successful. Palestine: The Balfour Declaration is drafted by the English 
government. Turkey: The first two Turkish features are shot by Sedat 
Simavi, Claw and Spy. 

1918 World War I ends, marking a shift in power relations between 
the Middle East and Europe. 

1919 The Paris Peace Conference takes place; the Versailles Peace 
Treaty is signed. 

1920 Israel: The Palestine Foundation Fund (PFF) is established in 
England to raise money for the establishment and maintenance of a 
Jewish state in the Levant; it supports the production of documentary 
films and newsreels propagating that agenda. Lebanon/Syria: The 
French Mandate over Lebanon and Syria is established. Palestine: The 
British Mandate over Palestine is initiated. 

1922 Tunisia: The first preindependence indigenous North African 
film, Zohra, directed by Albert Samama Chikly, is released. Turkey: 
Muhsin Ertugrul begins making films for the newly founded private 
studio, Kemal Film. 

1923 Palestine: The British Mandate over Palestine is implemented. 
Turkey: The Republic of Turkey is established after the Great War of 
Independence (1919-1922). 

1924 Iran/Turkey: The U.S. documentary Grass is shot in Iran and, 
partially, in Turkey. 

1925 Egypt: The Misr Theatre and Cinema Company is established 
by Misr Bank. 

1926 Iran: Reza Shah ascends the Pahlavi throne. Lebanon: Leba- 
non is annexed from Greater Syria but remains under French Mandate. 

1927 Egypt: Aziza Amir, a stage actress, sets up a company with 
Turkish writer, Wadad Orfi, and in the same year, they produce and co- 


direct Layla ; Amir is thus the first Egyptian (and Arab) woman to have 
produced and directed a film. 

1928 Turkey: ipek Film, a major production studio and dubbing 
facility, is founded. 

1929 Lebanon: The Adventures of Elias Mabrouk , directed by Italian 
Jordano Pidutti, becomes the first silent film shot in Lebanon. 

1930 Egypt: Zeinab (Mohammad Karim) is the country’s first full- 
length feature. Iran: Abi and Rabi (Oganian) becomes the first Iranian 

1931 Lebanon: The Adventures of Abu Abed , directed by Jordano 
Pidutti, becomes the first film made with Lebanese funding. 

1932 Iraq: Iraqi independence is granted. Israel: Natan Axelrod 
and Chaim Halachmi co-direct the first Zionist feature, Oded the Wan- 

1933 Lebanon: The Lumnar Film Company is established with fi- 
nancing from the Lebanese matriarch, Herta Gargour. In the Ruins of 
Baalbek, directed by Julio De Luca and Karam Boustany, and produced 
by Lumnar, is the first film produced entirely in an Arab country and to 
feature the Lebanese dialect. 

1934 Egypt: The White Rose (Mohammad Karim) introduces music 
star Mohamed Abdel Wahab to the screen. Iran: The first Persian- 
language feature. The Lor Girl, is made in India by Ardeshir Irani and 
Abdolhossein Sepanta. 

1936 Egypt: Umm Kulthum, the Arab world’s most famous singer, 
appears in the first of her six films, Wedad (Ahmed Badrakhan). 

1936-39 Palestine: The Arab Revolt takes place in the Levant. 

1937 Tunisia: The first Arabic feature. The Fool of Kairouan, di- 
rected by Jean- Andre Kreuzy, is released. 

1939 Egypt: Determination (Kamal Selim), considered the country’s 
first realist film, is released. Maghreb: World War II begins as Ger- 
many invades Poland: the war will take on a Middle Eastern dimension 
when Germany invades North Africa. Syria: Vichy France takes con- 
trol of the country. 


1941 Iran: Reza Shah abdicates under pressure from the Allied 
Forces, and his son accedes to power. Syria: Syrian independence is 

1943 Lebanon: Independence from France is granted. The Rose 
Seller, directed by Ali al-Ariss, becomes the first postindependence 
Lebanese film but contains dialogue in the Egyptian vernacular (Cai- 
rene). Turkey: The first fully dubbed and/or postsynchronized Turkish 
film. Troubled Spring (Faruk Ken£), is made. 

1944 Morocco: The Centre cinematographique Marocain (CCM) is 
established to produce Moroccan films. 

1945 World War II ends as Japan surrenders to the Allied Forces. 
Algeria: Rise of the Algerian Workers Movement. 

1946 Maghreb: Studios Africa is founded by France to produce 
documentaries in its African colonies. Syria: Syrian independence is 

1947 Israel/Palestine: 29 November: United Nations General As- 
sembly Resolution 181 (the “Partition Plan”). 

1948 Iran: Esmail Kushan founds the Mitra film company, beginning 
the production of the first domestic sound films. Iraq: The first Iraqi 
film. Alia and Issam, is released. Israel/Palestine: 14 May: The State 
of Israel is declared. 15 May: End of British Mandate Palestine; war 
breaks out in the Levant; Nakba ensues. The PFF becomes the United 
Israel Appeal. Turkey: A decrease in the municipal entertainment tax 
on ticket revenues from domestic films leads to a gradual increase in 
the production of domestic films. The first domestic film competition 
is organized. 

1949 Israel: The Israeli Motion Picture Studios are opened in Her- 
zliyah. Tunisia: The Federation Tunisienne des cine-clubs (FTCC) is 
created, launching a cinematheque movement in Tunisia. 

1950 Egypt: Youssef Chahine’s career as a director begins with 
Daddy Amin. 

1952 Egypt: The Free Officers coup overthrows the monarchy; the 
Ministry of National Culture and Guidance is founded. Israel: The 


Geza Film Studios are opened in Givatayim, later to become the Ber- 
key-Humphries Studio. Lebanon: Studio Haroun and Studio Al-Arz 
are the first fully equipped film studios opened in Lebanon. Turkey: 
The earliest recognized Ycsilcam films are shot by Liitfi O. Akad, Mu- 
harrem Giirses, and others. 

1953 Iran: Mohammad Mosaddeq, who had nationalized the oil 
industry and begun to limit the Shah’s powers, is overthrown by a CIA- 
engineered coup. Turkey: Muhsin Ertugrul’s last, but Turkey’s first, 
color film. Carpet-weaving Girl , is made. 

1954 Algeria: The Algerian War against French colonial forces be- 
gins. Israel: The Bill for the Promotion of Israeli Films, a state funding 
vehicle, is passed. Tunisia: A film society, A1 Ahd el Jadid, takes over 
Studios Africa’s Tunisian arm, Actualites Tunisiennes. 

1956 Egypt/Israel: 29 October: Israel attacks Egypt during the Suez 
Crisis. Lebanon: Baalbek Studios is founded by Badih Boulos and will 
become one of the Middle East’s premier film studios during the 1960s. 
Maghreb: 2 March: Morocco is granted independence from France. 
20 March: Tunisia is granted independence from France. 7 April: 
Spain relinquishes its territories in Morocco. Algerian student strike 
begins subsequently in France and Algeria. 

1957 Jordan: Struggle in Jarash, directed by Wassif Sheik Yas- 
sin, becomes the first film from Jordan. Lebanon: George Nasser’s 
Where To? becomes the first Lebanese film featured at the Cannes 
Film Festival. Tunisia: Societe anonyme Tunisienne des production 
et d’expansion cinematographiques (SATPEC) is established to ad- 
minister film production, distribution, importation, and exhibition in 

1958 Egypt: Cairo Station (Youssef Chahine) is released, starring 
the director, and quickly becomes a touchstone for cinematic realism 
in the country. Egypt/Syria: The United Arab Republic (U.A.R.) is 
established. Iran: South of the City (Farrokh Ghaffari), a precursor of 
the New Wave films to come, marks a deromanticizing of poor urban 
life and is banned in Iran. Iraq: The Republic of Iraq is established. 
Lebanon: The first Lebanese Civil War breaks out between Christian 
nationalists and pan-Arab secularists. 


1959 Egypt: The Higher Cinema Institute, a training center, is es- 
tablished in Cairo; The Nightingale’ s Prayer, the most famous of the 
collaborations between director Henri Barakat and star, Faten Hamama, 
is released. Iraq: The General Organization of Cinema and Television 
(GOCT) is founded. 

1960 Turkey: The 1960 military intervention changes the course of 
social and political life in Turkey, as Yegilgam filmmaking undergoes 
growth and development. 

1961 Algeria: 17 October: French police kill 200 Algerian demon- 
strators in Paris, as depicted in Living in Paradise (1998). Iran: The In- 
stitute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults 
(IIDCYA), or Kanoon, is founded. Morocco: Hassan II becomes king, 
thus beginning the repressive “Years of Lead” that included much film 
censorship. Turkey: The “high” Ycsi learn era begins with the produc- 
tion of 1 13 films in one year. 

1962 Algeria: 5 July: Independence from French colonialism is 
achieved. The Radio Television Algerienne (RTA) is established to 
train film professionals and fund state co-productions. Iran: The House 
Is Black, Forough Farrokhzad’s highly influential documentary set in a 
Tabriz leper colony, appears. 

1963 Algeria: The Office des actualites Algeriennes (OAA) is estab- 
lished as a newsreel production organization. Egypt: Nationalization 
of the Egyptian film industry takes many people by surprise. It leads 
to the production of a number of quality films by the public sector, 
which is, however, effectively bankrupt by 1970. The situation compels 
many Egyptian filmmakers and actors to relocate film production to 

1964 Lebanon: The National Center for Cinema and Television is 
established by the government. Palestine: The Palestine Liberation 
Organization (PLO) is formed. Tunisia: The Festival international du 
film non professionel de Kelibia is founded to exhibit works by ama- 
teur North African filmmakers. Turkey: Metin Erksan’s Dry Summer 
(1963) wins the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. The flagship 
festival of Turkish domestic cinema, Antalya Golden Orange Film Fes- 
tival, is launched. 


1965 Lebanon: UNESCO establishes the Arab Cinema Liaison Cen- 
ter in Beirut. 

1966 Algeria: Gillo Pontecorvo’s landmark film about the Algerian 
War, The Battle of Algiers, is released. Iraq: The first Baghdad Film 
Festival is held. Tunisia: Gammarth Studios are established as paid of 
SATPEC. The Carthage Film Festival is founded by Tahar Cheriaa. 

1967 Algeria: The Centre national du cinema (CNC) and the Institut 
national cinema (INC) are dissolved into the Office national pour le 
commerce et l’industrie cinematographiques (ONCIC) as the central 
agency for administering Algerian film production. Egypt/Israel/ 
Jordan/Palestine/Syria: 5-10 June: The Six-Day War takes place, 
marking the beginning of the expanded Israeli Occupation. Iran: The 
International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults is held 
for the first time. 

1968 Egypt: Shadi Abdel-Salam’s sole feature. The Night of Count- 
ing the Years (aka The Mummy), is released. France: May: Students 
and workers, including many from the North African diaspora, strike 
in France against oppression and exploitation under the conservative 
administration of Charles de Gaulle. Iraq: The Ba‘th Party comes to 
power. Morocco: Conquer to Live, co-directed by Mohamed Abder- 
rahman Tazi and Ahmed Mesnaoui, becomes the first postindependence 
Moroccan feature. Palestine: The Palestine Film Unit is established in 
Jordan. Tunisia: The Dawn, directed by Omar Khlifi, becomes the first 
postindependence Tunisian feature. 

1969 Algeria: ONCIC takes over film distribution and exhibition. 
Iran: The beginnings of the Iranian New Wave are signaled by the 
release of The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui) and Qeysar (Masud Kimiai); Ab- 
bas Kiarostami is instrumental in setting up the cinematic affairs depart- 
ment of the IIDCYA (Kanoon), and will make many of his short films 
and early features there over the following years. Syria: The National 
Film Organization (NFO) is founded. 

1970 Egypt: Death of Nasser and succession of Anwar Sadat to the 
presidency. Jordan/Palestine: The events of Black September result in 
thousands of Palestinian deaths and lead to the expulsion of the PLO to 
Lebanon, where Palestinian Revolution Cinema blossoms. 


1971 Iran: The lavish celebration of 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran 
is held at Persepolis, Cyrus the Great’s ancient city, in an attempt to 
legitimate and glorify the Shah’s rule. Palestine: The first Palestinian 
film. With Our Souls, with Our Blood , produced by the Palestine Film 
Unit, is released. 

1972 Egypt: The immensely popular Souad Hosni vehicle, Watch 
Out for Zuzu (Hassan El-Imam), is released. Syria: The first Damascus 
International Film Festival is held. Turkey: Ycsilcam peaks with an 
annual production of 300 films. 

1973 Egypt/Israel/Palestine/Syria: 6 October: The Yom Kippur- 
Ramadan War begins. 

1974 Algeria: The OAA is integrated into ONCIC. Algerian distribu- 
tors boycott ONCIC to protest state control of distribution and exhibi- 
tion. Israel: The Israel Film Archive is opened. Syria: The Damascus 
Cinema Club is founded. 

1975 Algeria: The Algiers Charter on African Cinema is adopted 
at the Second Congress of the Federation Panafricaine des Cineastes 
(FEPACI). Chronicle of the Years of Embers , directed by Mohamed 
Lakhdar-Hamina, an epic film about the decades-long anticolonial strug- 
gle in Algeria, is released; it marks the most expensive and extravagant 
Algerian film to date, as well as puts Algerian cinema on the interna- 
tional map. Lebanon: 13 April: The second Lebanese Civil War begins 
and will last 15 years, disrupting the “golden age” of Lebanese cinema. 

1976 Algeria: The release of Omar Gatlato, directed by Merzak Al- 
louache, marks a turning point in Algerian cinema from revolutionary 
cinema moujahid to contemporary cinema djidid. Tunisia: Fatma 75, 
directed by Selma Baccar, becomes the first Tunisian film directed by 
a woman. 

1977 Iraq: The Iraqi film industry is nationalized by the Ba‘th gov- 

1978 Algeria: The “Nouba ” of the Women of the Chenoua, directed 
by Assia Djebar, becomes the first Algerian film directed by a woman. 
Israel/Lebanon: 14 March: Israel invades southern Lebanon (Opera- 
tion Litani). 


1979 Iran: The Shah is overthrown during the Iranian Revolution, 
and an Islamic government under the control of the Aytollah Ruhollah 
Khomeini is gradually instituted. Israel: The Fund for the Promotion of 
Israeli Quality Films, a revision of the Bill for the Promotion of Israeli 
Films, is established. Menachem Golan’s Cannon Films becomes the 
first genuinely transnational film production company. 

1980 Iran/Iraq: The Iran-Iraq War begins, provoking a new genre 
of “sacred defense” war films in Iran. Turkey: The 12 September 1980 
military intervention and the junta government of 1980-1983 slow the 
pace of domestic filmmaking and prevent the production of political 
and sex films. 

1981 Egypt: Assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is succeeded as presi- 
dent by Hosni Mubarak. 

1982 Iran: February: Inception of the Fajr International Film Fes- 
tival. June: The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is given 
power to regulate cinema in Iran through a series of policies that 
attempt to ensure accordance with the Islamic Republic’s values, re- 
quiring all films made in the country to obtain a series of approvals at 
various stages of their production, and all films shown in the country 
to receive an exhibition permit dictating when and where they may be 
screened. Israel/Lebanon: 6 June: Israel invades southern Lebanon 
(Operation Peace for Galilee). 16-18 September: The Sabra and Sha- 
tila Massacre takes place in the two named Palestinian refugee camps 
near Beirut. Israfest is founded to promote Israeli cinema in the United 
States. Morocco: The Embers , directed by Farida Bourquia, becomes 
the first Moroccan film directed by a woman. Palestine: The leadership 
of the PLO is exiled from Lebanon to Tunisia. Turkey: §erif Goren’s 
The Way shares the award for best film at the Cannes Film Festival. 

1983 Egypt: The Bus Driver (Atef El-Tayeb) is released. It is often 
credited as announcing the beginning of the New Realist movement, 
partially a response to Anwar Sadat’s lnfitah (“Open Door” policy). 
Iran: The Farabi Cinema Foundation is established to oversee the film 
industry and later becomes instrumental in subtitling films for interna- 
tional festival screenings. Israel: The first Jerusalem International Film 
Festival is held. 


1984 Maghreb: The Fonds Sud Cinema is established by the French 
government to support the influence of Francophonie in the global 
South. Algeria: Entreprise nationale de production cinematographique 
(ENAPROC) and Entreprise nationale de distribution et d’exploitation 
cinematographiques (ENADEC) succeed the ONCIC as the central 
agencies for administering the cinema sector. 

1986 Iran: The Runner (Amir Naderi) and Bashu, the Little Stranger 
(Bahram Beyzai) signal a resurgence in Iranian cinema after the revolu- 
tion, and begin its acknowledgment as one of the world’s most impor- 
tant cinemas by international audiences and critics. 

1987 Algeria: November: The Centre Algerien pour Part et Findustrie 
cinematographiques (CAAIC) replaces ENAPROC and ENADEC as the 
central agency for administering the cinema sector. RTA resources are 
regrouped into the Entreprise nationale de productions audiovisuelles. 
Palestine: Wedding in Galilee, directed by Michel Khleifi, becomes 
the first Palestinian film shot within historic Palestine and backed by 
European funding. 9 December: The First Intifada erupts. 

1988 Iran/Iraq: The Iran-Iraq War ends. Israel: The Berkey- 
Humphries Studio merges with the Israel Motion Picture Studios to 
form United Studios of Israel. 

1989 Iran: Where Is the Friend’s House? begins Abbas Kiarosta- 
mi’s so-called Koker Trilogy, which moves from humanist realism 
to pseudo-documentary and intensive self-reflexivity, while Mohsen 
Makhmalbaf’s Wedding of the Blessed marks a decisive break from the 
Islamist themes of his earlier works. June: Ayatollah Khomeini dies. 
Jordan: The Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation is established in Am- 
man. Lebanon: A business mogul orchestrates the Taef Agreement, in 
which the Lebanese militias agree to end the civil war. 

1990 Iraq: 2 August: Iraq invades Kuwait. Turkey: The first private 
television channel. Magic Box Inter Star 1, begins broadcasting, affecting 
the course of cinema in Turkey and putting an end to the Ycsilcam era, as 
numerous Turkish filmmakers will come to find work in television. 

1991 Iran: February: Rakshan Bani-Etemad wins the best director 
prize for her controversial Nargess at the Fajr International Film Festi- 
val. Iraq: 17 January: The United States invades Iraq, thus beginning 


the Gulf War. Turkey: A small output of 33 films, most of them not 
released theatrically, marks the end of the late Ycsilcam period and the 
shift from the popular Ycsilcam industry to the post-Ycsilcam period, 
or new cinema of Turkey and putting an end to the Ycsilcam era. 

1992 Algeria: January: The success of the Islamic Salvation Front in 
the first round of national elections leads to an army intervention, the 
postponement of subsequent elections, and the beginning of a ten-year 
civil war. Investment in and production of cinema declines precipi- 
tously over this period. 

1993 Algeria: October: The cinema sector is privatized, and CAAIC 
funding is severely limited. Israel/Palestine: The New Israeli Fund for 
Film and Television is established. 13 September: The Oslo Peace Ac- 
cords are launched. 

1994 Egypt: Naguib Mahfouz is stabbed in Cairo. Tunisia: SATPEC 
is dissolved. 

1996 Palestine: The Cinema Production and Distribution Center is 
established by Rashid Masharawi in Ramallah. Turkey: The first suc- 
cessful hit of the new cinema of Turkey, The Bandit (Yavuz Turgul), is 
released, and domestic films once again find opportunities for theatrical 

1997 Iran: May: Abbas Kiartostami’s Taste of Cherry wins the 
Palme d’or , the Cannes film festival’s highest honor. August: Moham- 
med Khatami, previously head of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic 
Guidance and a moderate force in Iranian politics, is elected president, 
leading to greater leniency in the imposition of restrictions on the 
cinema and the release of some previously banned films. The Iranian 
Documentary Filmmakers Association (IRDFA) is created to aid in 
directing, producing, and distributing documentary films in Iran. Leba- 
non: The first Beirut International Film Festival is held. 

1998 Algeria: The government dismantles CAAIC and its affiliates; 
217 employees lose their jobs. Iran: Mohsen Makhmalbaf shoots The 
Silence in Tajikistan. Israel: The Bill for Cinema is passed. Lebanon: 
West Beirut, directed by Ziad Doueiri, draws large audiences to its pre- 
mier at the Beirut International Film Festival, thus marking the begin- 
ning of a cinematic renaissance in Lebanon. 


1999 Iran: Children of Heaven (Majid Majidi, 1997) is a break- 
through hit in the United States and is nominated for an Oscar in the 
Best Foreign Film category. Morocco: King Hassan II dies; his son, 
Mohammed VI, accedes to the throne and begins lifting repressive gov- 
ernment measures, including those involving film censorship. 

2000 Iran: Three Iranian films. The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf), 
Djomeh (Hassan Yektapanah), and A Time for Drunken Horses (Bahn- 
man Qobadi) win major prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Qobadi es- 
tablishes Mij films to promote Kurdish cinematic culture. Israel/Leba- 
non/Palestine: May: Israel withdraws from southern Lebanon, ceding 
victory to Hezbollah. Palestinian refugees rush to the fenced border to 
meet relatives, as depicted in Mai Masri’s Frontiers of Dreams and 
Fears. July: Oslo negotiations fail. 29 July: The Al-Aqsa Intifada 

2003 Iraq: February: The U.S. leads an invasion of Iraq, thus begin- 
ning the Iraq War. Jordan: July: The Royal Film Commission (RFC) 
and the Amman Filmmakers Cooperative are established. 

2004 Maghreb: The French Centre national du cinema, in partner- 
ship with the Intergovernmental Agency for Francophonie, improves 
support schemes for screenwriting and writers-in-residence programs. 
Palestine: The Palestinian Film Foundation (PFF) is founded in the 
United Kingdom to coordinate Palestinian film festivals and seminars 
throughout that country. Turkey: Fatih Akin’s Head-on wins the 
Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. 

2005 Algeria: Assia Djebar becomes the first North African woman 
elected to the Academic Francaisc. Lebanon: Former Lebanese Prime 
Minister Rafiq Hariri is assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut, setting 
off the “Cedar Revolution” that resulted in the withdrawal of Syrian 
troops from the country. Bosta, directed by Philippe Aractingi, becomes 
the first thoroughly Lebanese film in terms of funding, production, and 
content. Iran: Conservative populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad becomes 
president. Palestine: Paradise Now , directed by Hany Abu- Assad, be- 
comes the first Palestinian film accepted for entry into the U.S. Acad- 
emy Awards. Shashat is established in Ramallah to support Palestinian 
women’s filmmaking. United Arab Emirates: Dream , directed by 
Hani Al-Shibani, becomes the first U.A.E. -produced feature. Yemen: 


A New Day in Old Sana’a, directed by Bader Ben Hirsi, becomes the 
first feature film from Yemen. 

2006 Israel/Lebanon: 12 July-14 August: The 33-day Israel- 
Hezbollah War takes place as Israel reinvades Lebanon, becoming the 
focus of several films, including Under the Bombs, directed by Philippe 
Aractingi, and I Want to See, directed by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil 
Joreige. Saudi Arabia: How’s It Going?, directed by Izidore Musal- 
lam, becomes the first Saudi-funded feature film. 

2007 Yemen: December: The first-ever Yemeni film festival is held 
at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). 

2008 Egypt: 27 July: Youssef Chahine, the prolific and probably the 
best-known of all Arab filmmakers, dies in Cairo. Israel/Palestine: 
December: The Israel Defense Forces massively invade the Gaza Strip. 
Turkey: Domestic cinema in Turkey sells more tickets than foreign 
films for the first time since the Ycsilcam years, and all 10 top-grossing 
films are domestic products. Nuri Bilge Ceylan wins the best director 
award at the Cannes Film Festival with his Three Monkeys. 

2009 Iran: Opposition to disputed election results in Iran is partly 
coordinated and publicized online through the use of YouTube and 
Twitter. Palestine: Amreeka, arguably the first Palestinian-American 
feature film, is released to critical acclaim in North America. 


Middle Eastern cinema is the product of multiple countries and regions, 
intersected by a series of recurring themes and formal strategies that can 
be traced through the entries in this book. Like film industries through- 
out the world, this cinema must operate in the shadow of Hollywood’s 
dominant model, although audiences in many parts of the region have 
also had significant exposure to Indian popular cinema (“Bollywood”). 
Egyptian cinema, sometimes referred to as “Hollywood on the Nile,” 
is the region’s biggest industry, and historically has supplied films and 
filmmakers to the rest of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia has played a 
substantial role in the funding of Egyptian productions for some time, 
although Saudi Arabian cinema has until very recently seemed a con- 
tradiction in terms. Turkey and Iran have also produced large numbers 
of films during particular periods, mostly for domestic markets, while 
Maghrebi cinema, on the other hand, has typically centered around the 
work of independent filmmakers working outside the genre- and star- 
driven studio systems of the major industries. Algerian cinema, which 
flourished immediately after independence, has all but disappeared in 
recent years, whereas Moroccan cinema has experienced an upswing 
through the production of world cinema vehicles. Jordan, Yemen, 
and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) have only recently begun to 
emerge as nations with cinemas, while Iraq, under the dictatorship of 
Saddam Hussein, as well as the United States occupation that displaced 
him, has not been fertile ground for the development of an earlier- 
established cinema. However, films are beginning to emerge from post- 
Ba‘thist Iraq that may be seen as important means of self-expression 
and communication for a people long-oppressed. This is true, too, for 
Palestinian cinema, which has, with only limited resources, produced 
an extraordinary corpus of challenging, often darkly humorous, films 
that address difficult conditions for its populations in Israel and the 



Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Israel, where a film industry does 
exist, the country’s most renowned filmmaker, Amos Gitai, has steered 
a largely independent course. 

Much of this work is relatively little known and often hard to find 
in English-speaking countries, but, as Western scholarly interest in the 
region has grown in recent years, the continued dissemination of its 
aesthetically and intellectually provocative films provides an empower- 
ing means for Middle Eastern filmmakers and cineastes to offer access 
to information and representation of their world and cultures, much of 
which can serve as something of a corrective to the frequently distorted 
projections of Western media. After all, the influence of the West and 
of colonialism remains marked in the region. The positioning of entries 
on Palestinian and Israeli cinema as separate entities, for example, 
demonstrates the difficulty of acknowledging and negotiating divisions 
based on national distinctions and geographical borders, many of which 
have been determined arbitrarily by colonial powers, primarily France 
and Great Britain. Indeed many well-known Palestinian filmmakers 
hold Israeli citizenship, and some Palestinians receive funding from 
Israeli sources; likewise, an important component of Israeli cinematic 
representation is Mizrahi, or Jewish-Arab, culture, reflecting the sig- 
nificant proportion of that population in Israel. Some Middle Eastern 
states are the product of the Sykes-Picot Agreement that divided much 
of the Mashreq (the Arab East) and the Levant (Lebanon, Palestine, 
Syria) into British and French spheres of influence, respectively, at the 
end of World War I. Egypt, on the other hand, is perhaps the world’s 
oldest continually existing country, and its Pharaonic past is often ad- 
dressed in the country’s more powerful— and socially critical— films. 
Iran is also an ancient country, but its borders have fluctuated under the 
influence of its own and neighboring states’ ambitions, and especially 
as a result of the “great game” between Britain and Russia during the 
19th century. Like most of the region, its population is ethnically di- 
verse, including Arabs and Turks as well as the stateless Kurds, whose 
national cinema is just beginning to develop. Turkey was, during the 
early years of cinema, the center of the longstanding Ottoman Empire, 
and has considerable Kurdish populations in its eastern regions. The 
countries of the Maghreb also contain minority indigenous populations, 
and films set in Berber regions, with themes relevant to the population 


and occasionally in Tamazight (a Kabyle language), have been made 
since the mid-1990s. 


Films were shot and viewed in the Middle East soon after they were in 
Europe. First, Lumiere cameramen toured the region, but soon regional 
and national cinemas began to appear. In Egypt, the earliest efforts at 
filmmaking involved a colonial enterprise featuring actualite films de- 
picting tourist attractions for foreigners and local elites. The success and 
favorable reception of these films led to the establishment of a series of 
increasingly influential studios, notably Studio Misr, the first produc- 
tions of which, in 1936, positioned Egyptian cinema as a purveyor of 
genre films. These incorporated famous singing stars such as Umm 
Kulthum and Mohamed Abdel Wahab— thus drawing in their already 
substantial audiences — and created numerous others, in an industry that 
became, by the 1940s, one of the world’s largest and a significant ex- 
porter to the neighboring Arab countries. This period launched the first 
“golden age” of Egyptian cinema, when industry opportunities attracted 
filmmakers from other Arab countries, especially Lebanon. 

In Turkey and Iran, cinema flourished somewhat later, but eventually 
substantial popular industries aimed at domestic audiences developed. 
Like Egyptian cinema, Turkish industry or Ye§ilgam cinema was borne 
of actualite filmmaking, in this case during the late Ottoman Empire, 
and was influenced— as it was to a lesser degree in Egypt and Iran— by 
the shadow-play tradition. Under the single-party rule of Kemal Mus- 
tafa Atatiirk, however, Yesilcam’s autocratic directorship constrained 
cinematic output, a situation that changed after World War II. Iranian 
cinema, too, began with the filming of actual events, first among them 
a royal visit to Belgium, recorded on film by the court photographer. 
Although early filmmakers-producers (described in the next section 
of this introduction) made films prior to World War II, a star-driven 
industry focused on melodramas, historical epics, and song-and-dance 
films developed only in the 1950s. 

In the Maghreb, cinema prior to the gaining of independence was 
largely controlled by colonial forces, and featured films made by and 


for the settler population, although some of the institutions established 
under colonialism, such as Morocco’s Centre cinema Marocain (CCM), 
were retained following independence. Algerian cinema during this 
period existed only in exile in Tunisia, but— as shall be elaborated 
shortly — independence fostered a filmmaking practice that would per- 
mit emphasis upon the oppressive nature of colonialism and celebrate 
the establishment of the postcolonial state. The vast majority of Al- 
gerian cinema was state-funded by one of a series of film production 
agencies — of which the Office national pour le commerce et l’industrie 
cinematographiques (ONCIC) was perhaps the most significant— or 
by the national television network. Radiodiffusion Television Algeri- 
enne (RTA), until privatization in 1993. In the later 1990s, however, 
civil war, the growing influence of political Islam, and, in reaction, 
increasing state censorship, severely limited this once very significant 

In neighboring Tunisia, a state-run production agency, Societe ano- 
nyme Tunisienne de production et d’expansion cinematographiques 
(SATPEC), was also dominant, although it failed in its attempt to con- 
trol cinema distribution in the country. The mid-1960s witnessed the 
establishment of the major Arab film festival, held biannually in Car- 
thage, and the Gammarth studio facilities, which, however, struggled 
to remain up-to-date— a factor in the impoverishment and eventual 
closure of SATPEC in 1994. Nevertheless, Tunisian cinema achieved 
an international presence in the late 1980s and 1990s, largely through 
the efforts of producer Ahmed Attia, working with directors and film 
commentators Nouri Bouzid (whose films have offered a series of 
meditations on masculinity and gender positioning), Ferid Boughedir, 
and editor-turned-director Moufida Tlatli. In Morocco, a significant, 
more widely attended cinema has been slower to emerge, with the im- 
mediate postindependence government having shown little interest in 
supporting film. The country’s first features, sponsored by the CCM, 
appeared during the late 1960s, and a change in funding mechanisms 
led to a considerable increase in output in the 1980s, but, with Hol- 
lywood and Egyptian cinema dominating local screens, there was little 
chance of finding an audience or revenues. These problems have been 
somewhat resolved since a more generous, but also more closely moni- 
tored, system of incentives was instituted during the 1990s, whereupon 
Moroccan cinema is now the most prolific and domestically success- 


ful in the Maghreb. Dependence on foreign co-production, however, 
remains a vital aspect of this development. Frequently the partnership 
is with France through funding mechanisms that require postproduc- 
tion work to take place there. In another sense, too, Maghrebi cinema 
remains tied to the former colonial power, since a flourishing, diasporic 
beur cinema— made by filmmakers who were either born in North Af- 
rica themselves or whose parents were — also exists. This movement, 
which has come to wider attention most recently, perhaps, with Rachid 
Bouchareb’s Days of Glory (2006), is an important part of French cin- 
ema, while retaining strong ties to the Maghreb, with many filmmakers 
passing back and forth between countries. The beginning of Maghrebi 
film production in Berber languages during the 1990s should also be 
noted in relation to the emergence of minority perspectives suggested 
by beur initiatives. 

By the 1950s, as the Maghrebi independence movements were gain- 
ing ground, the commercial nature of Egyptian cinema had come under 
criticism for its largely escapist quality. The Free Officers coup of 1952 
and subsequent government of Gamal Abdel Nasser facilitated a shift in 
focus toward socially more conscious films that formed what became 
known as the second “golden age” of Egyptian cinema. Film industry 
nationalization during the 1960s led to a sharpening of this focus, with 
the emergence of both a realist aesthetic and the beginnings of an auteur 
cinema, the exemplary figure of which was Youssef Chahine. Unlike 
the European new waves, however, the ensuing Egyptian films did not 
break from the industrial system so much as negotiate its parameters, 
blurring art and commercial boundaries and compelling some commit- 
ted filmmakers to seek work abroad, for instance in Iraq and in Syria, 
where the very existence of cinema was and remains a struggle. This 
blurring continued into the post-Nasser era, with the reprivatization 
begun during the late 1970s providing the conditions for a New Realist 
wave of filmmaking in the 1980s. The rise of satellite television and 
digital video during the 1990s, as well as Saudi investment in more 
recent years, have enabled a wider access to films that has also sparked 
a cinema revival, including a nostalgia craze for the first “golden age” 
and increased attention to Egyptian cinema in the West. 

In its 50-year history, by contrast, Turkey’s Ycsilcam underwent 
waves of productivity — the most prolific of which was the “high” 
Ycsilcam period of the 1960s-1970s — each one of them both framed 


and disrupted by civil strife. Official, Republican calls for “Turkifica- 
tion” in Ycsilcam films, moreover, may have limited external access 
and interest, already significantly precluded by world cinema’s tightly 
controlled worldwide systems of distribution. More recently, these limi- 
tations have been relaxed, as industry production declined and, gradu- 
ally, was mostly replaced by the onset of the new cinema of Turkey, a 
loosely defined movement in which an auteurist filmmaking practice 
distinguished itself more fully from the popular-commercial. Of recent 
years, and particularly in the work of film festival favorite, Nuri Bilge 
Ceylan, this rejuvenated Turkish cinema has received much more atten- 
tion abroad on the art-house circuit. In addition, an important aspect of 
this new cinema has been its acknowledgment of Turkish minorities and 
of diasporic filmmaking, primarily of German provenance. 

There is also a significant, although more widely dispersed, Iranian 
diasporic/exilic cinema. Many of its filmmakers left the country in the 
aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979. Prior to this, the domestic 
cinema of Iran had established a strong popular presence in the coun- 
try, with powerful stars. Censorship restrictions meant that little of 
this work was politically engaged, and some of it has been viewed as 
passively supporting the despotic regimes of the Shah Reza Pahlavi, 
and his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. A new wave, signaled most 
decisively, perhaps, by the release of U.S. -educated Dariush Mehrjui’s 
The Cow (1970), disturbed this status quo, but a much bigger change 
followed the Revolution: many earlier films, both domestic and foreign, 
were banned from theaters, while much more severe restrictions on the 
depiction of women comprised one of the most notable constraints on 
new productions. Despite these developments, the Islamic authorities, 
personified by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, were not opposed to 
cinema per se, and, following the establishment of the Farabi Cinema 
Foundation, which facilitated various aspects of their work, Iranian di- 
rectors, such as Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, developed 
a strong art sector by the 1990s that helped foster a substantial presence 
for Iranian cinema in international film festivals. 

Unlike the above cinemas, those of Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Israel 
have been relatively less prolific, with the Lebanese example being the 
most productive through a genre- and star-driven industry bolstered 
with logistical support over the years from Egypt: however, its fate has 
been bound up with the destructiveness of civil wars and external pres- 


sures. The influence of Egyptian cinema led to early Lebanese films 
of the 1930s being produced in the Egyptian rather than Levantine 
vernacular. Lebanese commercial cinema carried an orientalist tenor 
conducive to popular formula films during the country’s “golden age” 
of the 1950s, although some Lebanese films resisted the postcolonialist 
Egyptian model. In many instances, such films, which served to fortify 
the country’s national cinema, were made by Christian filmmakers, 
in contrast to the works of their Muslim compatriots, which tended to 
identify more with Nasserist pan-Arabism and, therefore, the Egyptian 
system. On the other hand, Lebanon occasionally welcomed Egyptian 
filmmakers, disenchanted with Nasser, who lent talent and prestige to 
the Lebanese industry. The Lebanese Civil War, however, made con- 
sistent film production nearly impossible, and a much more artisanal 
practice, often with a notably avant-garde orientation, has been charac- 
teristic of recent developments. 

The Israeli film industry has also been limited by the exigencies of 
war, the high cost of which has historically precluded sustained funding 
for quality filmmaking. Hence, the Israeli cinema has always sought 
funding abroad. The earliest Israeli films made about historical Palestine 
were actualite films and short pastoral dramas produced by the Euro- 
pean-based Jewish National Lund or Palestine Loundation Lund/United 
Israel Appeal, and were themselves intended as fundraising vehicles 
for the nascent Zionist cause. After the State of Israel was established 
in 1948, two national production facilities opened that produced less 
nostalgic, more forward-looking films for domestic Jewish audiences. 
Since 1954, a series of state funding agencies has supplied these fa- 
cilities with financial assistance that has enabled a relatively small, but 
consistent, output of popular-commercial melodramas, war films, and 
comedies, of which the bourekas genre, centered on stereotyped Mizrahi 
Jews, is perhaps the most notable. Persistent war and violence through 
the 1960s prompted a series of generic transformations contextualizing 
the Six-Day and Yom Kippur-Ramadan Wars, known generally as 
the Young Israeli Cinema. This period also witnessed the emergence 
of the country’s foremost auteur, Amos Gitai, and the producer- 
director Menachem Golan, whose Cannon Lilms was one of the earli- 
est players in contemporary transnational cinematic production. In the 
wake of the Lirst Intifada, popular demand for films that would address 
sociopolitical concerns more directly and explicitly led to the production 


of numerous independent documentaries about the Palestinian-Israeli 
conflict, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and related matters, as 
well as some concerned with Palestinian-Israeli society outside the 
matter of the conflict. Perhaps in response, the Israeli Censorship Board 
was dismantled in 1991, and film censorship came under the control of 
the interior ministry. Since then, Israeli industry-art hybrids, mostly 
psychological melodramas funded through international appeal, have 
been released on the world cinema circuit. While presenting the damage 
caused to the Israeli psyche by the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, they 
have often attempted to put a gentler face on the continuing occupation 
of Palestine. 

Just as Israeli national cinema arose, Palestinian cinema was pre- 
vented from developing, as part of the general restrictions placed on the 
Palestinian population. Indeed, not until the mid-1980s would Palestin- 
ian cinema develop domestically, after a lengthy period of flourishing 
in exile. The complex relationship of Palestinian cinema with Israel and 
with sources of funding outside the region that contributed to the politi- 
cal art cinema of such figures as Michel Khleifi, Elia Sulieman, and, 
more recently, Hany Abu-Assad and Rashid Masharawi, is discussed 
in the next section. 

State restrictions— of another stripe— have also been instrumental in 
constraining Iraqi and Syrian filmmaking, both limited, as in Algeria, 
to state-run monopolies. Production in Ba‘thist Syria’s National Film 
Organization (NFO) has never resulted in more than a few films per 
year, and the situation was little better in postindependence Iraq, either 
during its period of private production, or during its nationalization 
under the Ba‘th government into the General Organization for Cinema 
and Theatre (GOCT). Moreover, the Iran-Iraq War and subsequent 
1991 Gulf War as well as the 2003 Anglo-American invasion and oc- 
cupation all but ended film production in the country. Syrian cinema, 
however, has continued to produce a slow, uneven stream of quality 
films, often directed by former students of the prestigious Russian State 
Institute for Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow and meant ideally 
for domestic audiences yet frequently restricted, censorially, to inter- 
national distribution due to their varied critiques, many quite allegori- 
cal, of the regime. Perhaps the most widely viewed film of this sort is 
Abdellatif Abdul-Hamid’s Nights of the Jackal (1989). Because of their 
ostensible support for pan-Arabism, both the NFO and the GOCT have 


welcomed guest directors from Egypt and other Arab countries in order 
to lend much-needed cache to their faltering industries and to encour- 
age international diplomacy. Recently, cinema has emerged in Jordan, 
following government incentives and encouragement; while the U.A.E., 
Yemen, and Saudi Arabia have also begun production, despite limited 
opportunities for exhibition domestically. 


To a substantial degree, cinema has served to define the character of the 
peoples and nations of the Middle East; it has been a prominent means, 
that is, of narrating nationalist histories and ideologies, and thus of pre- 
senting a sense of what it means — and doesn’t mean— to be a citizen or 
subject of a country. As Viola Shafik has pointed out, film came to the 
Middle East relatively soon after the spread there of print media (news- 
papers and magazines), and has in many respects adopted the role of na- 
tion-building attributed to the latter by Benedict Anderson, through the 
construction of “imagined communities.” Cinema’s importance in this 
light is, indeed, borne out by the high degree of government control and 
censorship of the medium that, sadly, also characterizes the region, inso- 
far as regulations are most commonly enforced to limit the discussion or 
depiction of material deemed contrary to desired images of the state. 

This nation-defining capacity of Middle Eastern cinema is nowhere 
more apparent than in the anticolonialist films that have characterized 
newly independent states. Algerian cinema has commonly been seen as 
a textbook example of this tendency in the years following its indepen- 
dence from France. Early films that celebrate the liberation movement 
include the well-known Battle of Algiers (1966), directed by the Italian 
socialist Gillo Pontecorvo, a film that records an important moment in 
that struggle, emphasizing how Algerians fought back against a com- 
mensurably greater colonial violence. Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina’s 
expensively made, award-winning Chronicle of the Years of Embers 
(1975) stands as something of a national epic, seeking to further define 
what it means to be Algerian through an analysis, both melodramatic 
and starkly realist, of the prerevolutionary experience. 

Women filmmakers have been prominent in the critical re-narration 
of nationalism in the Maghreb and elsewhere. Tunisian director, 


Moufida Tlatli, probably the most influential of these, dwells explicitly 
on the patriarchal structures of nationalism in her Silences of the Palace 
(1994), a film set mostly in the days just prior to Tunisian indepen- 
dence, but framed by a more recent time, the images of which serve 
to critique postindependence society. In the past, the heroine. Alia, as 
a girl, sings the national liberation song, “Green Tunisia,” but the film 
opens with her adult performance of a love song by the Arab world’s 
most famous singer, Umm Kulthum (who supported a pan-national- 
ist platform). Juxtaposed with her unsatisfactory relationship with her 
partner, a former revolutionary, this performance serves to underscore 
the continued oppression of women under conditions of ostensible 
liberation. Tlatli was the editor of Moroccan woman director Farida 
Benlyazid’s compelling A Door to the Sky (1988), which also ties the 
nationalist project to gender oppression. In this instance, however, a 
Westernized Nadia, returning to Fez for her father’s funeral, gradually 
sloughs off her Parisian values to embrace a Sufi-influenced form of 
Islam— although this, too, she will eventually question. Islam’s often 
fraught relationship with nationalism and national identity is a key topic 
in many fine films from the region. In Algeria, the civil war and growth 
of Islamism have been the subject of several of the limited number of 
films made in the 21st century. Documentarian Djamilia Saraoui, for 
example, issues a plea for tolerance in her Enough! (2006), in which the 
heroine’s own loss leads her to confront the violence of the country’s 
recent past in the context of the earlier independence struggle and the 
need for a peaceful future. Meanwhile, Nadia El Fani, a Tunisian direc- 
tor, has examined— and challenged— continued French influence with 
her Bedwin Hacker (2002), and attempted to counteract an increasingly 
autocratic turn in the political landscape with The Children of Lenin 
(2007), a commemoration of her father’s socialist and cosmopolitan 
values that seem in short supply in contemporary, neoliberal Tunisia. 

Such critical nostalgia is a frequent means of instilling a sense of 
how a nation’s past might be used to question its present course. Tuni- 
sian Ferid Boughedir’s A Summer in La Goulette (1995), for example, 
memorializes — and sentimentalizes — an era of religious tolerance in 
which Muslims co-exist and interact joyfully with Christians and Jews. 
While Islam is the dominant religion throughout the Middle East, its 
practices and formations vary historically and geographically. Minority 
religions commonly co-exist within Islamic civilization, and in Egypt, 


for example, a considerable and noteworthy Coptic Christian presence 
exists in the film industry, exemplified by directors Youssef Chahine 
and Henri Barakat. Some of Chahine’s films, in particular, celebrate 
the cosmopolitan character of his birthplace, Alexandria, and a tolerant 
Islam, personified by Saladin, leader of the Muslim Arabs against the 
Christian Crusaders, who nevertheless respects Christian values and 
includes in his army Arab Christians equally opposed to the Crusades. 
The full Arabic title of Chahine’s Saladin (1963 )— El Nasir Salah El 
Dm— explicitly connects Saladin to Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian 
president who briefly united his country with Syria to form the United 
Arab Republic, and who was, for a time, revered throughout the Arab 
world for his ability not only to redefine his own national ideology, 
but to adapt it to the wider, pan- Arabist movement, which has inspired 
political liberationists to this day. 

In Iran, the influence of Islam on cinema has also led to a contes- 
tation, within film, over what defines that country and its national 
religion. Many Iranian filmmakers have worked on behalf of reform- 
ist ex-president, Mohammed Khatami, who, in his prior position as 
Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, was an important facilitator 
of cinema. The screening of previously banned films under Khatami 
helped define his vision of the nation, just as their proscription has 
defined other regimes. By the same token, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad’s 
documentary, Our Times (2002), records Khatami’s election victory, 
while also acknowledging the many female candidates who ran against 
him, thus drawing attention, from a woman-centered perspective, to 
certain limitations of the nationalist project. Meanwhile, a change in 
disposition toward the dominant modes of Islam in Iran can be traced 
across the films of Mohsen Makhmalbaf, which first emphasized the 
central role of religion in defining national identity, but more recently 
have rejected it. 

Turkish cinema has very specifically been a site of struggle over 
what constitutes Turkish national identity. Debates about the nature of a 
“true” national cinema have been ongoing, with Islamic values weighed 
both against national folkloric traditions and Western, secular-rational- 
ist norms. This debate is very much alive today, as the country applies 
for admission to the European Union (E.U.). One obstacle to that goal 
has been domestic criticism of forced secularization (for example, legal 
restrictions in France against Muslim women wearing the headscarf 


[hijab] in public places) and other anti-Muslim/-immigrant policies 
in some E.U. countries in which Turks and Muslims live as migrant 
and guest-workers; another may yet prove to be Western disapproval 
of Turkey’s treatment of its substantial Kurdish minority in the East. 
As in Iran and Iraq, nationalist ideology, sometimes rationalized in the 
name of pan-Islamism, has precluded acknowledging Kurdish claims 
to nationhood and led to the violent suppression of struggles for po- 
litical independence. Interestingly, one of Turkey’s best-known actors 
and, later, directors, Yilmaz Giiney, was a Kurd, although this went 
unacknowledged for much of his career. So indeed was the historical 
Saladin, a fact not recognized in Chahine’s pro-Nasserist celebration of 
his pan-Islamic values. Iranian Kurd, Bahman Qobadi, and Iraqi-born 
Hiner Saleem both emphasize their Kurdishness in recent cinematic 
works, and identify themselves with their non-nation rather than with 
Iran or Iraq. 

The situation of Palestinians is not unlike that of the Kurds, although 
with a much stronger film history, reflected in the title of Hamid Da- 
bashi’s edited collection, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema. 
The difficult conditions of exile did not deter Palestinian refugees in 
Jordan and Lebanon from producing a significant, often aesthetically 
challenging— if now largely missing— corpus of short films, mostly 
documentaries, that in retrospect came to be called Palestinian Revo- 
lution Cinema. Its remaining extant works are stored in the Dreams 
of a Nation Archive, co-curated by Dabashi and Palestinian diasporic 
filmmaker, Annemarie Jacir, among others. The unremitting nation- 
alist character of these films influenced the later Palestinian cinema 
that emerged in the years following the Camp David Accords, exem- 
plified by Michel Khleifi’s landmark Wedding in Galilee (1986), in 
which, however, the question of nationalism is rearticulated in terms 
of gender roles. Palestinian-Israeli directors could at this time receive 
financial support from the Israeli government, although many chose 
to seek funding abroad, mostly from European sources. Palestinian 
cinematic output increased, even and especially under deteriorating 
political-economic conditions, following the First Intifada and ensuing 
Oslo Accords, and a series of auteurs emerged in addition to Khleifi 
(who would later collaborate with Jewish-Israeli director, Eyal Sivan, 
on the critical documentary feature. Route 181: Fragments of a Journey 
in Palestine-Israel [2004]). Elia Suleiman’s Divine Intervention (2002) 


exorcises Palestinian woes with the help of supernatural forces— but 
also the superior humor and intelligence of its Palestinian protagonists 
in comparison with their Israeli opponents; while Rashid Masharawi 
and Hany Abu-Assad, in Ticket to Jerusalem (2002) and Ford Transit 
(2002), respectively, both demonstrate exemplary Palestinian patience 
and perseverance— sumud— in the face of the Occupation’s social and 
spatial restrictions characterized by military checkpoints and the con- 
struction of the Separation Wall/Fence. 

Israeli cinema, by contrast, has throughout its history variously 
invoked and supported Zionism, the ideology of Jewish nationalism. 
Exemplifying this aim are the aforementioned popular genre films, as 
well as a small but significant series of Holocaust films that attempt to 
justify the Zionist project in the name of ensuring Jewish safety. 


Much film scholarship of late has emphasized the transnational charac- 
ter of Middle Eastern cinema not only in recent decades but historically, 
the earliest films having frequently been made by outsiders in one or an- 
other sense of that term. In addition to colonial filmmaking and the use 
of Middle Eastern countries as backdrops for Western films, such as the 
Josephine Baker vehicle Princess Tam-Tam (1934), or David Lean’s 
study of Englishness abroad, Lawrence of Arabia (1962), filmmakers 
frequently not of Middle Eastern background, or otherwise from else- 
where in the region, were prominent in starting local industries. Thus, in 
Iran, for example, Avanes Ohanian, who directed the earliest features, 
was an Armenian and long-time resident of Russia who spoke little 
Persian. The first Persian-language sound films were made in India by 
Abdolhossein Sepanta and Ardeshir Irani; nevertheless, they were pow- 
erful nationalist documents, serving to legitimize the Shah’s rule and 
to celebrate Iranian cultural traditions. Many of the earliest Egyptian 
films were made by filmmakers of Italian origin, such as the Egyptian- 
born Stephane Rosti, who directed Layla in 1927. This film’s position 
as the first full-length Egyptian feature has recently been challenged 
by Shafik, who substitutes another film directed by an Italian, Victor 
Rositto’s In the Land of Tutankhamen (1923). She points out, too, that 
the highly successful, early Jewish-Egyptian director Togo Mizrahi also 


held Italian citizenship, while other important pioneers were the Lama 
brothers, Ibrahim and Badr, who were Chilean-Lebanese — or possibly 
Palestinian. The connection of the Egyptian industry to Lebanon has 
continued to be very strong, with many major stars, especially those 
with musical connections, such as Farid al-Atrache, having originated 
there. A striking example of the impact of transnational exchange on 
the construction of iconic national figures in this cinema is the dancer, 
singer, and actress Tahiyya Carioca, whose stage name is adopted from 
the Brazilian dance, the “Karioka,” made famous by Carmen Miranda, 
and at one time immensely popular in Egypt. (To her credit, Carioca 
was able to sustain a long and distinguished career, which extended in 
later years to key roles in realist and auteur films that prevented her de- 
scent into the sort of demeaning self-parody characteristic of Miranda’s 
Brazilian exoticism in Hollywood.) 

These conditions of transnational exchange and interdependence 
have been accelerated since World War II with the implementation of 
neoliberal trade practices, concomitant tariffs and taxation of films, 
and multinational funding models. The effects of such developments 
are especially evident in the growth of Middle Eastern immigrant and 
diasporic populations beyond the region, and the artistic cultures, in- 
cluding cinema, which they have carved out in sometimes inhospitable 
environments. Such cinema’s numerous determinants include consider- 
able French influence on the Maghreb during the colonial period, the 
persisting cultural links of which have compelled many Tunisians, Mo- 
roccans, and Algerians seeking work, education, and political asylum to 
settle in France, where they have formed the aforementioned bear com- 
munity. Palestinians, displaced from their lands and properties since at 
least 1948, have mostly resettled as refugees in Israel and neighboring 
Arab countries, as well as throughout the West, and many Palestinian 
filmmakers have been educated abroad. A significant Palestinian dia- 
sporic cinema has developed under these conditions, with Bethlehem- 
born Annemarie Jacir and Norma Marcos beginning their filmmaking 
careers in New York City and Paris, respectively, and U.S.-born Mai 
Masri basing her filmmaking practice in Lebanon. Similarly, Lebanese 
directors-in-exile, notably Walid Raad, have made avant-garde and 
documentary films about that country’s civil war, often— like Palestin- 
ian cinema— challenging related notions of nationalism and ethnic and 
religious chauvinism. (In many ways, indeed the same has been true of 


non-exilic Lebanese filmmakers such as Jocelyn Saab, Maroun Bagh- 
dadi, and Borhane Alaouie, whose works have opened up a discussion 
of internal exile.) 

These films are instances of what Hamid Naficy has termed an “ac- 
cented” cinema, one that carries specific modes of production, themes, 
and formal characteristics, such as an interest in movement, entrapment, 
and epistolary structures. Iranian director, Sohrab Shahid Saless, a pre- 
revolutionary exile whose somewhat melancholic works made in Ger- 
many express a yearning for a home he seemingly never achieved, are 
perhaps prototypical; while the formally very different work of Fatih 
Akin, a German of Turkish background, grapples explicitly with issues 
of national displacement and transnational existence in the narratives 
of relatively more widely distributed films, such as Head-on (2004) 
and Edge of Heaven (2007). As these examples illustrate, the multiple 
lines of connection constituting “world cinema” are often as enabling 
as they are constraining, a film’s ideological tenor and aesthetic quality 
dependent as much on a director’s individual fortune and tenacity as on 
larger global forces. Tawfik Saleh, for example, unwilling to compro- 
mise with the persisting commercialism of the Egyptian studio system, 
was able to make films in socialist Syria ( The Dupes [1973], itself an 
allegorical film about the difficulty faced by oppressed workers when 
crossing borders) and Iraq, where he taught at the Cinema Academy, 
although he struggled to maintain a consistent output worthy of his 
considerable talents and commitments. 

Perhaps the most obvious way in which Middle Eastern cinema now 
operates in a transnational world is through the ubiquitous use of co- 
productions, especially outside the industrial cinemas of Egypt, Turkey, 
Iran, and Israel. This means of funding, typified by the French Fonds du 
Sud, incorporates Middle Eastern filmmaking with transnational eco- 
nomic systems controlled more or less by agencies outside filmmakers’ 
home countries or regions. Major auteurs such as Youssef Chahine and, 
particularly, Abbas Kiarostami, who have secured a measure of indepen- 
dence from the vicissitudes of production in their respective countries 
by securing European— again in both cases, mostly French— funding 
for their projects, have sometimes been criticized as “festival filmmak- 
ers.” While Chahine continued to insist that his primary audience was 
Egyptian and produced a number of domestic successes, Kiarostami’s 
films, although in many respects steeped in Persian culture, have not 


been especially popular at home. His slow-paced, self-referential films 
explore ideas both intellectually and philosophically, revealing self- 
critical insights into Iranian life and society. Border Cafe (Kambozia 
Partovi, 2005) is another Iranian film that emphasizes displacement in a 
world in which people are forced constantly to cross borders, only here 
the cafe of the title offers a brief taste of home and a place in which 
nationalities can mix; its images of trucks, drivers, and their passengers 
on the move reveals another form of displacement, and specific food 
items, among other things, help to provide a temporary home. 

The cultures of a far-off homeland are indeed replicated in diasporic 
communities across the globe, whether in the cooking of traditional 
dishes, often refashioned in accordance with current circumstances, or 
in the watching of satellite television stations, which can bring a little 
bit of Cairo or Tehran to those who view. Beur filmmaker Abdellatif 
Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain (2007) celebrates North African 
cultural traditions through meal-time and belly-dancing scenes, while 
responding to their potential exoticism by placing the nostalgia often 
experienced by exiled and diasporic communities in the context of host- 
country prejudices and racism. Similarly, just as many Middle Eastern 
cities today are populated by television antennae that allow people ac- 
cess to a wide variety of media, some of which may be discouraged by 
local authorities, films may be made in communities and transported to 
diasporic and exilic communities outside the region. VHS Kahloucha 
(Nejib Belkadhi, 2006), for example, a record of the work of amateur 
filmmaker, Moncef Kahloucha, whose films are made with extremely 
low budgets, begins with the delivery of cassette-tapes of his newest 
production to a group of Tunisian migrant workers in a small town in 
Italy. Film is again seen to forge connections and to build community 
across borders. 


At first glance, the division of information implicit in the historical 
dictionary format may seem to work against a recognition of the trans- 
national interconnectedness detailed above by ghettoizing the mate- 
rial. (This possibility is, after all, inherent in the encyclopedia form, 
which developed historically as a mode of dividing and categorizing 


knowledge, often deployed to abstract and generalize about particular 
geographical regions under European colonial control.) We do not, 
however, believe that this is necessarily the case, and have striven to 
ensure that it should not be. Indeed, the nonlinear, cross-referential na- 
ture of this work can, we believe, counter this tendency by facilitating 
multiple entry points into the general topic of Middle Eastern cinema, 
and thus encourage readers to cross possibly unfamiliar cinematic and 
philosophical borders. Following certain threads through the volume 
may also aid readers in adopting alternative approaches to the typical 
ways in which this material has been organized, and we hope in this 
way to enable them to measure the cinemas of the Middle East against 
each other, as well as in comparison to the Hollywood cinema with 
which they may be most familiar. 

In addition, in selecting material for the historical dictionary, we 
have tried to balance inclusion of the best-known figures and move- 
ments internationally — those most likely to engage the book’s prob- 
able readership in the first place— with lesser-known material from 
an already underserved area of cinematic inquiry, where some of the 
more innovative and challenging work has consistently taken place. 
We acknowledge claims made by Shafik, as well as Kiarostami, that 
the cinema— and its modern conditions — are by no means “alien” to 
the Middle East, as has sometimes been asserted, and that to presume 
otherwise oversimplifies the history of the region and its cultures. 
This discussion evokes questions raised by longstanding scholarly 
debates over whether concepts of symbolism, metaphor, and allegory 
are especially appropriate or inherently valid means for interpreting 
non-Western films, as originally suggested in controversial work by 
Fredric Jameson and debated in critical responses by, among others, 
Aijaz Ahmad, Madhava Prasad, and Rey Chow (representative works 
by all of whom can be found in the Bibliography to this volume). 
As noted throughout these pages, an alternative perspective on the 
national-cultural significance of Middle Eastern films to be consid- 
ered here is the reemergence of Islam and Islamism, forces linking 
much of the region in ways that complicate and generally contrast 
frameworks that emphasize pan-national, pan-Arabist and pan-Afri- 
can interconnections. 

In his original essay, “Third World Literature in the Era of Multina- 
tional Capital” (1986), Jameson raises issues related to the relationship 


between cultural work— including cinema— and its national conditions 
of production. He argues that this relationship is allegorical: that is, that 
a subject and narrative stand in for or analogize figures and events as- 
sociated historically with their country or region of origin. Jameson’s 
critics have argued that his theory runs the danger of affirming prejudi- 
cial or otherwise unnuanced interpretations of works from Third World 
countries by allowing readers-audiences to disregard such works’ for- 
mal properties and the specific cultural traditions bound up with them. 
Thus, the danger is that readers-audiences are prevented from recogniz- 
ing the many individual and alternative means of responding to national 
and transnational conditions, such as those described above. 

Critics have further suggested that, while Jameson is correct to 
point out that transnational exchange provides the parameters for First 
World/Western encounters with the non-West— including, in cinema, 
the kinds of co-productions discussed above— his argument implies that 
all Third World culture is primarily concerned with its relationship to 
the First World/West, either explicitly or unconsciously. This approach 
tends to position First World readers-spectators as a work’s main 
critical audience, thus inviting interpretations unfamiliar— and possibly 
inappropriate — to many local audiences. In fact, Jameson’s critics have 
argued, not all Third World or non-Western culture is primarily con- 
cerned with its relationship to the First World/West— although much 
evidently is; in any event, such concern is often articulated in terms, 
both aesthetic and conceptual, that speak more directly to non-Western 
peoples, and that may therefore not be readily interpretable according 
to Western cultural and intellectual frameworks. Furthermore, while 
transnational capitalism and the nation-state are co-dependent func- 
tions of the modem world system, it does not necessarily follow that 
cultural responses and critiques of that system will always take a nation- 
centered form. For many Third World critics, ignoring these complex 
variables while interpreting culture for what Jameson calls a text’s “po- 
litical unconscious” may result in acts of theoretical “violence” that can 
serve, if inadvertently, to support the (neo)colonial interests that have 
constrained non-Western cultures and societies for so long. As a critical 
countermeasure to these tendencies, we have striven to ensure that the 
historical dictionary’s entries on particular films and filmmakers do not 
make blanket presumptions about national and/or political concerns, 
and have been careful to integrate descriptions and interpretations of 


them that will respect cultural differences while not eliding cross-cul- 
tural considerations and implications. 

Scholarly analysis of Middle Eastern cinema has been practiced 
within many academic disciplines, using different approaches, but 
hails in part from Area Studies, a broadly interdisciplinary, Western 
academic field established and partly funded by the U.S. Department 
of State under the legislative act known as Title VI, first instituted in 
1958 and renewed, often with significant emendations and changes of 
emphasis, every six years thereafter. Area Studies’ wide scope, initially 
bolstered by Cold War imperatives, has also sometimes tended to ho- 
mogenize the Middle East, thus running the risk of furthering orientalist 
views about the region. One complex facet of this approach may be seen 
in contemporary debates over the status of women in the Middle East, 
especially in relation to a frequently misunderstood Islam, all too often 
treated as coterminous with the region. Framed commonly by social sci- 
ence paradigms of anthropology, ethnography, sociology, archaeology, 
and psychology, Middle Eastern women have often been positioned as 
needful of “modem” uplift and humanitarian rescue. Under this system, 
women and women’s issues are evaluated either according to universal 
models, such as those pertaining to social and reproductive roles or 
women’s rights— by which Middle Eastern societies are found defi- 
cient— or, conversely, by discourses limited to quite specific localities, 
which may all but foreclose debate on the subject. Both approaches fail 
to accommodate sufficiently the views of women in the region, some- 
thing we have also tried to redress in the historical dictionary. 


This volume covers a broadly defined Middle East, as explained in 
the preface. Its reach has not been expanded to central Asia, despite 
the relationship between Tajik and Persian, and the Turkic languages 
that predominate in most of the other former Soviet republics. These 
countries maintain strong links to Russia, and their diasporic and exile 
communities are predominantly resident there. Afghanistan, an entry 
about which has been included, marks a special case, in that it has re- 
cently been incorporated into American conceptions of the Middle East 
by post- 1 1 September 200 1 discourse. In addition, parts of Afghanistan, 


especially the area around Herat in the west, have for long periods been 
part of historic Persia. We include an entry on the country, however, 
primarily because of the involvement of Iranian filmmakers who, in 
working there, have tried to help reestablish cinema since the fall of the 
Taliban. At the other geographical extreme, we have drawn an imagi- 
nary line under the disputed Moroccan territory of Western Sahara and 
do not include an entry on the largely Arab-Muslim country of Maurita- 
nia, where the most prominent filmmakers, Med Hondo and Abderrah- 
mane Sissako, have stronger ties to black African cinema. For similar 
reasons, our coverage does not extend to the Sudan in East Africa or 
to Chad in the center. This is not meant to imply that the Maghreb and 
sub-Saharan Africa are entirely distinct culturally or politically— as 
demonstrated by the pan-African production conditions referred to in 
the entry on Ousmane Sembene’s Camp de Thiaroye (1987). Finally, 
because their cinemas are still so little developed, neither Libya nor 
the Gulf states of Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain have been given entries, 
although circumstances in all of them are changing. This still leaves 
a plethora of engaging material in the compelling, interlinked, but 
distinctive entries on the cinemas of Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, 
Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the diasporic 
and exilic cinemas associated with them, and on the signs of increased 
production in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. 

The Dictionary 

- A - 

ABAZA, RUSHDI (1927-1980[1982?]). A muscular Italian-Egyptian 

actor famed during the 1950s and 1960s as both the romantic lead 
and tough guy, Abaza was born into a wealthy family and was fluent 
in five languages. Although he had no prior experience in the theater, 
he was keen to act in cinema; his first small role was in the film, The 
Little Millionairess (Kamal Karim, 1948). In 1950, he attempted to 
break into the Italian film industry but, meeting with no success, 
he returned to Egypt to play several minor roles. Many saw him as 
having the potential to reach international fame (comparable to that 
achieved by Omar Sharif) because he played small roles in The Ten 
Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1956) and In the Valley of the 
Kings (Robert Pirosh, 1954). With slicked-back hair and a trimmed 
moustache, Abaza’s suave appearance could easily become dishev- 
eled and— shirt off— raunchy during the course of a film. In The 
Road (Hossam Eddin Mostafa, 1966), Abaza’s role as Saber is split 
according to his relationship with two very different women— as 
played by Souad Hosni and Shadia. 

Under the direction of Ezzedine Zulficar, Rushdi starred in 
some of his most notable roles, including Road of Hope (1957) and 
A Woman on the Road (1958). Typical for the industry, these films 
set the tone for Abaza’s subsequent performances. He was often 
cast as the sleazy individual with a good heart — and a tendency to 
drink, gamble, and engage in illicit love affairs. He played the role 
of a gangster in The Second Man (Zulficar, 1959), starring Sarnia 
Gamal and Sabah, and a strong and canny sailor in Struggle on the 
Nile (Atef Salem, 1959), alongside Hind Rustom and Omar Sharif, 



while in A Man in Our House (Henri Barakat, 1961), he plays the 
opportunistic cousin who willingly exploits the situation. In Lost 
Love (Barakat, 1970), Abaza’s character cheats on his wife (Zubeida 
Tharwat) with her best friend (Hosni). Abaza also starred in com- 
edies where, in contrast, he plays a hapless victim of the canny ploys 
of a witty and relentless female — most memorably in Too Young for 
Love (Niazi Mustafa, 1966), opposite Hosni. In The Little Witch 
(Mustafa, 1963), he is tormented, also by Hosni, who mistakes 
him for her estranged father, moves into his house, and disrupts his 
bachelor lifestyle, while in Wife Number 13 (Fatin Abdel-Wahab, 
1962), his bride (Shadia) refuses to consummate their relationship 
after she discovers that he is a serial romantic who quickly loses 
interest after marriage. Similarly, in Beware of Eve (Abdel-Wahab, 
1962), he plays a veterinary doctor who ultimately tames an ill-tem- 
pered shrew (Loubna Abdel Aziz). Abaza married actresses Sabah, 
Tahiyya Carioca, and Sarnia Gamal, and continued to act until he 
fell ill and died before completing his role in the 1982 film, The 
Strong Men (Ashraf Fahmy). 

ABBASS, HIAM (1960- ). An increasingly visible figure in contem- 
porary world cinema, Palestinian actress Abbass has appeared in 
several landmark Middle Eastern films. The most recent of these 
is Amreeka (Cherien Dabis, 2009), arguably the first Palestinian- 
American feature, in which she plays a sharp-tongued immigrant to 
the United States from the Occupied Palestinian Territories— a 
role that resituates, but reprises her more militant role as a beur or- 
ganizer in Living in Paradise (Bourlem Guerdjou, 1998). Abbass’ 
star persona is one of cool, often enigmatic introspection coupled 
with intelligent, principled resistance, characteristics that have led to 
her successful casting in Palestinian as well as Israeli films, notably 
Haifa (Rashid Masharawi, 1996), The Syrian Bride (Eran Riklis, 
2004), Paradise Now (Hany Abu-Assad, 2005), Free Zone (Amos 
Gitai, 2005), Disengagement (Gitai, 2007), and Lemon Tree (Riklis, 
2008), for which she won the Best Actress award from the Israeli 
Film Academy. Bom in Nazareth and raised as a traditional Muslim, 
Abbass has also appeared in numerous international co-productions, 
including Satin Rouge (Raja Amari, 2002) and Gate of the Sun 
(Yousry Nasrallah, 2003). 


ABDEL- AZIZ, MAHMOUD (1946- ). After receiving a master’s 
degree in Agriculture from the University of Alexandria, Mahmoud 
Abdel- Aziz began his career during the late 1980s as an actor in 
Egyptian television. Although cast in serious films such as Shafika 
and Metwally (Ali Badrakhan, 1978) and Hunger (1986), he also 
often played comic roles in films that touched on social issues. Dim- 
witted, earnest, and endearing, he is the half-wit in The Palm Agency 
(Hossam Eddin Mostafa, 1982)— named after a district in Cairo— 
while The Flat Is the Wife’s Legal Right (Omar Abdel-Aziz, 1985) 
features a classic scene in which Abdel-Aziz sits on the kitchen floor 
in the middle of the night, legs crossed, elbow deep in a washing pail, 
singing loudly in an attempt to aggravate his ex-wife and her mother. 
In Beast Race (Ali Abdel-Khaliq, 1987), he agrees to a lobotomy, 
then regrets his decision and offers his riches for the chance to re- 
verse the procedure before going mad with despair at the loss of his 
“cantaloupe” (the area of his brain which represents his potency). 

Abdel-Aziz worked with a number of New Realist directors and 
was quickly associated with their movement. He starred in Ra’fat 
El-Mihi’s The Gentleman (1987), Fish, Milk, and Tamarind (1988), 
and Dear Ladies (1990), in which he is married to four career-ori- 
ented women simultaneously and ends up pregnant. However, he is 
best known for his role as Sheikh Hosni in Kit-Kat (Daoud Abdel 
Sayed, 1991), in which he plays a blind man who lives with his 
mother and son. He also co-starred with actresses Naglaa Fathi (Ex- 
cuse Me, It’s the Law [Inas al-Deghidi, 1985]), Mervat Amin ( The 
World on the Wings of a Dove [Atef El-Tayeb, 1989]), Abla Kamel 
(Ika’s Law [Ashraf Fahmy, 1991]), and Ilham Shahine (Pleasure 
Market [Samir Seif, 1999]). After a period of absence, he featured 
alongside a younger generation of actors in The Magician (Radwan 
El-Kashef, 2002), and played a single father who struggles to pre- 
serve his daughter’s virginity in The Baby Doll Night (Adel Adib, 
2008). Abdel-Aziz continues to act in both television and cinema. 

1986). A committed nationalist and liberal of the Nasserist era, 
Abdel-Salam, born in Alexandria, trained as an architect and worked 
as a set and costume designer with Egyptian directors such as Yous- 
sef Chahine, Salah Abu Seif, and Henri Barakat, as well as with 


Joseph Mankiewicz on Cleopatra (1963), Jerzy Kawalerowicz on 
the Polish Pharoa (1966), and Roberto Rossellini on the television 
series, Mankind’s Fight for Survival (1967). In 1968, he became head 
of the Unit for Experimental Cinema, in which directors were given 
more freedom of expression, and for which he directed two docu- 
mentaries: Horizons (1972), about the arts in modern Egypt, and The 
Annies of the Sun (1975), on the 1973 war with Israel. 

Given his background in architecture, his experience in cos- 
tume and set design, and his knowledge of history and philosophy, 
Abdel-Salam manifested his desire to rekindle the splendor of ancient 
Egypt, rejecting both socialist pan-Arabism and Islamism— the two 
solutions offered for the salvation of Egypt. Abdel-Salam’ s work 
reveals a rigorous attempt to draw on and understand ancient Egypt 
and its significance within contemporary Egyptian society, most ap- 
parent in his only feature. The Night of Counting the Years (1968), 
also known as The Mummy. His other films, including the fictional 
short based on an ancient papyrus, The Complaints of the Eloquent 
Peasant (1970), and his unfinished project, Akhenaton, about the 
ancient king who sought to unify Egypt, highlight his conviction that 
this rich past is one that remains relevant to Egyptians today. He also 
directed three nonfiction shorts on the subject of ancient Egypt: Tut- 
Ankh-Amon’s Chair (1983), The Pyramids and Their Antecedents 
(1984), and Ramses 11 (1986). 

ABDEL SAYED, DAOUD (1946- ). An Egyptian director who grad- 
uated from the Cairo Higher Cinema Institute in 1968 and worked as 
assistant director to Kamal El-Sheikh and Youssef Chahine, Daoud 
Abdel Sayed later became closely associated with the New Realist 
movement of the 1980s and 1990s. His first feature. The Vagabonds 
(1983), tells the story of two tramps who become rich drug dealers 
and lose their friendship because of their greed. In Kit Kat (1991), the 
title referring to a popular district in north Cairo, the main protagonist 
is a blind man. Sheikh Hosni (Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz), who spends 
most of his evenings playing the lute, singing, and smoking hash 
with his friends. His son, finding little future in Egypt, sets his hopes 
on traveling abroad to the Persian/ Arabian Gulf— only to discover 
that the money he needs has been squandered by his father. Abdel 
Sayed’ s protagonists have frequently been contradictory in their 


behavior, and his films often present a deep exploration of the com- 
plexities of his characters, rarely simplifying issues of motivation or 
morality. In Land of Fear (2000), we see a mainstream-looking film 
packed with action and romance. Yet within the somewhat typical 
narrative (a policeman goes undercover in order to infiltrate drug 
rings), we witness the existential conflict of a hero (Ahmed Zaki) 
plagued with solitude and uncertainty. The voice-over narration that 
punctuates the film recurs with a more satirical tone in A Citizen, a 
Detective, and a Thief (200 1 ), starring Khaled Abu Naga, Hend Sa- 
bri, and popular singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim. The citizen character 
(Abu Naga) is a Westernized, liberal-elite author whose harmonious 
life is disrupted by the theft of his car— a random event that brings 
him into contact with a domestic servant (Sabri). The series of events 
that follow are as bizarre as they are unlikely — with Abdel Sayed 
maintaining an in-depth analysis of his characters, cross-class rela- 
tions, and assumptions regarding high/low culture. A focus on moral 
corruption manifests the director’s ongoing concern with an issue 
considered crucial by the New Realist filmmakers during the 1980s, 
and which remains relevant today. 

ABDEL-WAHAB, FATIN (1913-1972). Bom in Dumyat, Abdel- 
Wahab became Egypt’s most important comedy director during the 
1950s and 1960s, and the vast majority of his films belong to that 
genre. He worked closely with Ismail Yasin following the success 
of their collaboration in Miss Hanafi (1954), in which Yasin becomes 
a woman and marries a butcher; the collaboration continued with a 
series of films with “Ismail Yasin” in the title, beginning with Ismail 
Yasin in the Army (1955). The fact that Abdel-Wahab graduated from 
military college in 1939 and continued to work in the armed forces 
until 1954 indicates that his experience fed much of the content of his 
early films. Their plots frequently revolve around the unlucky Yasin, 
who finds himself unable to meet the physical demands of army 
training, or is diminished by a stronger or richer adversary. Typical of 
the genre, following a series of adventures, justice is restored. 

Through his comedies, Abdel-Wahab explored a number of sig- 
nificant social issues in Egypt— in particular class differences and the 
role of women. The social aspect of his films came to be emphasized 
during the 1960s, when he made films such as Oh Eve (1962) and 


Bride of the Nile (1963), both starring Rushdi Abaza and Loubna 
Abdel Aziz. In My Wife the General Manager (1966), Abdel-Wahab 
explores the shifting role of women in a story about a couple whose 
married life is dramatically affected when the wife (Shadia) is pro- 
moted above her husband (Salah Zulficar) and is forced to redefine 
her role as both a wife and a boss. Another of his significant films is 
Wife Number 13 (1962), a loose adaptation of the 1001 Nights, with 
stars Shadia and Abaza. As a director, Abdel-Wahab worked well 
with stars, and was able to draw them out of their typecast roles; 
among his earliest films was Professor Fatima (1952), starring Faten 
Hamama as a lawyer who uses her cunning to prove the innocence 
of her neighbor’s son, wrongly accused of murder. 

ABDEL WAHAB, MOHAMED (1907-1991). A highly inventive, 
extremely prolific, and immensely popular composer, musician, 
and singer, Abdel Wahab considerably expanded and developed 
Arabic music, adding Western rhythms and new instrumentation, 
and— partly at the suggestion of Mohammad Karim, who directed 
him in seven feature films— devising shorter variations of traditional 
forms. Born in Cairo, Abdel Wahab began recording music at the age 
of 13 and was already popular throughout the Arab world from radio 
broadcasts, by the time he began a collaboration with Karim in a se- 
ries of musicals, beginning with The White Rose (1934) and ending 
with I’m No Angel (1947). After this, he made a cameo performance 
in Flirtation of Girls (Anwar Wagdi, 1949), playing himself, per- 
forming one of his songs, and conducting a vast orchestra in friend 
Yussuf Wahbi’s house in the middle of the night, at the climax of 
the film. Giving up cinema in the 1950s, he continued his singing 
in the 1960s and his composing long after— reflected in his broadly 
modernist experimentation with musical forms. In 1964, he wrote the 
first of several songs for his long-time rival at the pinnacle of Egyp- 
tian music, marking the first time that the much more traditionally 
minded Umm Kulthum is accompanied by an electric guitar. The 
popularity of these two figures, in particular, was a factor in estab- 
lishing the primacy of Egyptian sound cinema in the Arab world. 

ABDUL-HAMID, ABDULLATIF (1954- ). The internationally most 
renowned of Syrian directors, Abdul-Hamid was born in the port city 


of Lattakia in northwest Syria near the Turkish border. He graduated 
from the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 1981, 
then began directing documentaries for the National Film Organi- 
zation (NFO) in Damascus, where he also worked as an assistant 
director on Dreams of the City (1983) with VGIK peers Mohammad 
Malas (director) and Samir Zikra (coscript writer). After starring 
in a subsequent NFO production Stars in Broad Daylight (1988) — 
directed by another VGIK graduate Oussama Mohammad, in 
which Abdul-Hamid plays a character made up strongly to resemble 
then-Syrian president Hafez al-Assad— he directed his first feature, 
Nights of the Jackal (1989), concerning a traditional rural family’s 
encounter with the modern state on the cusp of the Six-Day War. This 
was followed by Verbal Letters (1991), a story of unrequited love 
resembling Cyrano de Bergerac. Both were highly successful with 
Syrian audiences — the first Syrian films to meet with such popular 
reception since the Ba'tli Party first took power in 1963. 

Abdul-Hamid’ s Soviet training is evident in his directorial tech- 
nique, which forges associative and interpretive connections, often 
within the span of a single zoom, between characters and their sur- 
roundings, and between everyday objects and their social functions, 
notwithstanding relatively straightforward story lines. These connec- 
tions often find common ground in the Syrian experience of defeat, 
a salient thematic in At Our Listeners’ Request (2003) and Nights 
of the Jackal , and a recurrent trope in much Syrian cinema. At Our 
Listeners’ Request, set in 1969, exposes the potential for political en- 
lightenment of even the most escapist of entertainment media, while 
Out of Coverage (2007), his seventh film, is a study of the personal 
reverberations of political imprisonment in everyday Syria. All of 
Abdul-Hamid’ s films have received acclaim and awards at interna- 
tional film festivals, as well as praise at home. 

ABDULLAH OF MINYE (1989). Whereas the first Islamic films ap- 
peared in Turkey during the 1970s, in the midst of “true” national 
cinema debates, Abdullah of Minye was released after the demise 
of Ye§il?am, when the majority of Turkish cinemas had been closed 
down. Adapted from a novel, Yiicel Ciakmakli’s film depicts chal- 
lenges faced by Islamists in a fictional Egypt that allegorizes Turkey. 
The film was categorized as “white cinema” — along with several 


other similarly themed films of the period— for its fundamentalist 
projection of strict religious purity and morality. Because of its finan- 
cial success, Abdullah of Minye was followed the next year by a se- 
quel, as white cinema films gained moderate if short-lived popularity 
and were screened in temporarily reopened cinemas and alternative 
venues such as coffee houses and communal gathering places. 

ABU-ASSAD, HANY (1961- ). Bom in Nazareth, Abu-Assad emi- 
grated from Palestine-Israel to The Netherlands in 1980, where 
he studied engineering and first worked as a technical airplane 
engineer. His cinematic career began as a producer for television 
documentaries broadcast on England’s Channel 4 and the BBC. In 
1992, he wrote and directed his first film. Paper House (aka House of 
Cards), which portrays a young Palestinian teenager trying to rebuild 
his family home after its destruction by the Israel Defense Forces. 
After writing and directing another short and serving as producer 
and director’s assistant for Curfew (Rashid Masharawi, 1993), 
Abu-Assad began his first full-length feature project as director of 
The Fourteenth Chick (1998), a comedy about a couple in Amster- 
dam. He followed that with a satirical documentary made for Dutch 
television, Nazareth 2000 (2000), about Palestinian Christians and 
Muslims quarreling, as seen through the eyes of two gasoline station 

A common theme in Abu-Assad’s subsequent three films has 
been the Palestinian experience of physical fragmentation due to 
checkpoints, and their impact on personal relations. Thus, in Rana’s 
Wedding: Another Day in Jerusalem (2002), a woman is not only 
separated from her fiance by a checkpoint but ends up marrying him 
at one. Regarding larger political and social relations, Ford Transit 
(2002) depicts a taxi driver earning income due to checkpoints, as his 
clients shift their daily routine to circumvent or pass through them. 
Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now (2005), depicting the last days of two 
would-be suicide bombers, gained him international recognition, as 
well as a fair dose of controversy, thus making him perhaps the most 
internationally famous contemporary Palestinian filmmaker. 

ABU SEIF, SALAH (1915-1996). Known as the master of Egyptian 
realism, Abu Seif was bom in Cairo and had a very lengthy and 


distinguished career that spanned more than 50 years, during which 
he directed more than 40 films. His first films were straightforward 
narratives, mostly romances, comedies, or costume dramas such as 
The Adventures of Antar and Abla (1948). Having begun his career 
as assistant director to Kamal Selim on Determination (aka The Will) 
(1939), he went on to study cinema in Paris and returned to Egypt 
to make a number of documentaries, and Your Day Will Come 
(aka The Day of the Unjust) (1951), which he wrote with Naguib 
Mahfouz as a local adaptation of Emile Zola’s Therese Raquin. Abu 
Seif’s subsequent films placed emphasis on what was referred to as 
“The Popular Quarter” ( Al-Hara Al-Shabia), often inspired by real 
incidents and featuring the plight of the poor, or an examination of 
the root causes of crime and criminality: almost coinciding with the 
Free Officers coup. Master Hassan (1952) is the story of a man who 
leaves his wife and child to live with a rich woman on “the other side 
of the Nile” in the upper-class Cairo district of Zamalek; Raya and 
Sakina (1953) is a dramatic reenactment of a real-life Alexandrian 
crime story, concerning two female serial killers who prey on young 
women; The Monster (1954) is a crime story about an underworld 
controlled by a lower-class criminal and brutal landowner; while 
The Thug (aka The Tough Guy) (1957) concerns a young peasant’s 
struggle to survive as a trader in a Cairo vegetable market controlled 
by malicious locals. Despite their focus on the lower classes, these 
films are highly polished commercial studio productions that make 
use of the star system. 

In what some have considered to be a betrayal of his previous 
social commitment, Abu Seif then shifted his focus to the upper bour- 
geoisie and aristocracy in films featuring morally complex characters 
but predictable endings. He frequently collaborated with Naguib 
Mahfouz as a scriptwriter and directed classic adaptations of Begin- 
ning and End (1960), starring Omar Sharif, and Cairo 30 (1966). 
Through his adaptations of the work of Ihsan Abdel Quddus, he also 
portrayed somewhat independent-minded women embroiled in illicit 
love affairs: The Empty Pillow (1957) and I Am Free (1959), both 
starring Loubna Abdel Aziz; and 1 Can’t Sleep (aka Nights without 
Sleep) (1957), The Closed Road (aka The Dead End) (1958), and 
Don’t Extinguish the Sun (1961), starring Faten Hamama, who also 
features in I Am Free. In A Woman’s Youth (1956), Tahiyya Carioca 


plays an older woman who uses her power to seduce and manipulate 
a young student. 

But Abu Seif’s films were not always so serious and morally 
coded. In Between Heaven and Earth (1959), he places characters 
from different classes and backgrounds in an elevator stuck between 
two floors: in a comic ensemble of star performers. Hind Rustom 
plays a glamorous film star who is confronted with having to deliver 
a baby and Abdel-Moniem Ibrahim, a madman who has escaped 
from an asylum and bickers with a peasant (fellah) carrying a large 
tray of cooked game on his head. Still, Abu Seif made a valuable 
contribution to the political environment in which he worked— most 
notably with Case Number 68 (1968), in which he criticized the 
rampant corruption of the socialist policies of the time. More subtly, 
the opening of The Malatili Baths (1973), featuring shots of Cairo’s 
numerous statues of historical figures, demonstrated Abu Seif’s abil- 
ity to adopt an experimental style, and while some have dismissed it 
as cheap sensationalism due to its overt sexual content, the film has 
been commended as one of the first Egyptian productions to include 
a relatively nuanced depiction of a homosexual character. 

ABU SHADI, ‘ALI (1947- ). An Egyptian him critic and former 
member of the New Cinema Group, Abu Shadi wrote a number of 
critical surveys of Egyptian cinema and documentary. In 1996, 
he became Egypt’s chief censor, and has also been director of the 
National Film Center, the annual National Film Festival, and the 
Ismailia International Film Festival. 

Based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz and directed by Hussein 
Kamal, Adrift on the Nile is arguably the most realistic depiction 
of drug use in Egypt, focusing primarily on a group of users from 
different segments of society (including a lawyer, actor [Ahmed 
Ramzy], and journalist), who gather to drink, party, and smoke hash- 
ish from a traditional homemade water pipe ( koza ) on a houseboat. 
The story is narrated by Anis Zaki (Emad Hamdi), an embittered 
petty government official who comments on the nation’s hypocrisy. 
On an excursion to the ancient ruins at Memphis, the group clambers 
onto a massive statue— while the women caress its face, the men 


light up and joke that the statue is also stoned. On the way back, the 
hedonistic group accidentally runs over a peasant woman with their 
car. Unable to think clearly, they decide to cover up the incident 
instead of reporting it, and each of them offers an excuse, blaming 
the government and then laughing the matter off— an allusion to 
the moral corruption of the time, involving specifically those who 
betrayed the ideals of independence and socialism for selfish gain. 
The final image, Anis— who has finally come to question the group’s 
behavior— walking through the streets of Cairo shouting, “the peas- 
ant woman is dead and we have to turn ourselves in,” is one of the 
most powerful endings in Egyptian cinema. 

AFGHANISTAN. Historically a geographical region contested by Eu- 
ropean colonial powers, epitomized by the “great game” for control 
of central Asia between Great Britain and Russia during the 19th 
century, much of Afghanistan was once part of the Persian Empire, 
and the western city of Herat, in particular, retains many cultural 
ties to Iran. The rise of the Taliban and the armed struggle that has 
continued throughout much of the country since their displacement 
by American-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops follow- 
ing the events of 1 1 September 2001 resulted in probably the world’s 
largest refugee population to date, as Afghans crossed into Iran. 
(The Geneva-based human rights website lists the number at nearly 
two million— 915,000 registered and legal, and nearly one million 
illegally settled.) The plight of Afghan refugees has been the subject 
of, or been part of the background in, many Iranian films, including 
Baran (Majid Majidi, 2001) and Delbaran (Abolfazl Jalili, 2000). 

In other Iranian films ( The White Balloon [Jafar Panahi, 1995]; 
Taste of Cherry [Abbas Kiarostami, 1997]), Afghan characters play 
smaller, but crucial roles. Iranian filmmakers have also recorded the 
struggle of the Afghani population within the country. Majidi’s docu- 
mentary, Barefoot to Herat (2002), for example, is shot largely in ref- 
ugee camps in Western Afghanistan, while Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 
Kandahar portrays a Canadian-born woman traveling in the country 
in search of her suicidal sister, along the way witnessing, as well as 
experiencing, many aspects of the physical and mental trauma of war, 
including a striking sequence in which one-legged people compete 
for prostheses dropped from the sky by helicopter. Although most of 

1 2 • AKAD, LUTFI O 

the film was shot in Iran, parts were filmed in Afghanistan. This is 
true too of Makhmalbaf’s The Cyclist (1989), about a poor Afghan 
immigrant to Iran, while his subsequent short film, Afghan Alphabet 
(2001), portrays girls trying to attain an education denied them by 
the Taliban. Since the Taliban’s overthrow, Makhmalbaf has worked 
extensively with the indigenous Afghani film community to revive 
cinema, which was completely forbidden under Taliban rule. His 
daughter, Samira Makhmalbaf, shot her third feature, At Five in the 
Afternoon , and her contribution to the portmanteau film, 09’ 11 ”01 
- September 11 (2002), there. 

AFTER SHAVE (2005). Directed by Lebanese Hany Tamba, this 
satirical comedy consists of a humorous exchange between Mr. 
Raymond, a wealthy recluse, and Abu Milad, a traveling barber. 
Abu Milad does not realize that his client is simultaneously convers- 
ing with his deceased wife, but the barber is well compensated so 
ignores it. Finally, Raymond, prepared to leave home for a romantic 
rendezvous with his wife, is hit and killed by a car as he tries to cross 
a street. As the lottery ticket he has just purchased flies into Abu 
Milad’s hands, Raymond’s ghost proceeds toward his date. Recalling 
Tamba’s earlier short, Mabrouk Again (2000), and prototypical of his 
subsequent feature. Melodrama Habibi (2008 ), After Shave succeeds 
by juxtaposing the mundane realities of the present against nostalgic 
fantasies of an imagined past. 

AKAD, LUTFI 6. (1916- ). Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Akad was 
educated in economics and commerce, but quickly quit his job at 
a bank and started working in the film industry. He wrote and di- 
rected his first film. Hit the Whore (1949), an adaptation of a novel 
about the Turkish War of Independence, with almost no filmmak- 
ing experience, only knowledge gleaned from reading Cahiers du 
cinema. Akad became an early master of Ye^il^am, developing a 
methodological and partly Hollywood-inspired realist film language 
while largely refraining from the excesses of Ye§ilgam’s exaggerated 
melodrama. While Akad directed popular melodramas, comedies, 
operetta adaptations, and musicals ( Give Some Consolation , 1971), 
he is best known for his trilogy on migration that represents a transi- 
tion from rural Anatolia to city life. The first film of the trilogy, The 

AKIN, FATIH • 1 3 

Bride (1973), often listed as one of the greatest Turkish films, pro- 
vides a realistic perspective on the challenges faced by a rural family 
that migrates to Istanbul. Akad is affiliated with the Turkish National 
Cinema movement. 

AKAN, TARIK (1949- ). After winning a magazine star contest, 
Akan began his career as a leading actor in romantic comedies 
and melodramas. As the number of social realist dramas and left- 
ist films rose slightly during the late 1970s, Akan also took roles 
in political films. He appeared as the handsome protagonist in the 
popular comedy, Blue Beard (Ertem Egilmez, 1974), about four 
bums who kidnap a famous singer. In The Herd (Zeki Okten, 
1978), he plays a villager who helps his neighbors try to take a 
herd to a city; in The Way (§erif Goren, 1981), he plays one of 
five temporarily released inmates, each of whom experiences a 
different adventure; and in the realist drama, The Wrestler (Okten, 
1984), he plays an oil wrestler who tries to earn a living with his 

AKIN, FATffl (1973- ). This Turkish-German filmmaker was born in 
Germany and attended the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts. Six years 
after his debut film, Short Sharp Shock (1998), Akin became a prom- 
inent transnational and European filmmaker with Head-on (2004), 
a fast-paced, highly aestheticized love story between a Turkish- 
German woman and man, which was awarded the Golden Bear at 
the Berlin Film Festival. He subsequently directed a documentary 
about the Turkish music world, Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of 
Istanbul (2005). His subsequent The Edge of Heaven (2007) is a 
dramatic feature organized into a dialectical narrative that attempts 
to transcend the Turkish-German divide with a lesbian love story 
that challenges traditional perspectives on gender and sexuality. 
While Akm’s early work is influenced by that of Martin Scorcese, 
his later technique also invokes the thematics and narrative-com- 
positional tropes of migrant cinema, including travel, border cross- 
ings, temporal disjunctions, multiethnic casting, and melodramatic 
language. In addition, recalling the new cinema of Turkey, Akm’s 
films articulate autobiographical themes and discourses related to 
his diasporic identity. 


AKKAD, MOUSTAPHA (1935-2005). Akkad was an innovative film 
producer and director who made both Hollywood genre films and 
Arab and Muslim-themed epics promoting cultural understanding, 
during a career spanning more than three decades. Born in Aleppo, 
Syria, and educated in film and theater in the United States, Akkad 
began his film career as a production assistant on Ride the High 
Country (Sam Peckinpah, 1962). His first film as director was The 
Message (1976), produced in English-language and Arabic versions 
with different actors, about the Prophet Mohammed (who was not 
shown onscreen in adherence to Islamic convention) and the birth 
of Islam. Carefully researched and endorsed as accurate by Qur’anic 
scholars and Muslim clerics, The Message garnered audiences world- 
wide. It was embraced by many as a respectful representation of 
Islam, but was banned in several Muslim countries including Saudi 

In 1978, Akkad forged a long-term partnership with John Carpen- 
ter, executive producer of the first and ultimately each of the eight 
Halloween slasher films. Akkad directed his second film, The Lion 
in the Desert , funded by Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi 
and starring Anthony Quinn (who also had featured in The Message), 
about a Muslim rebel who fought for Libya’s independence and self- 
determination. Akkad died in 2005 as a result of injuries sustained 
in a hotel bombing in Amman, Jordan; reportedly more than 2,000 
people attended his funeral services in Aleppo. At the time of his 
death, Akkad was continuing to seek financing for an epic project, 
Saladin, about the Muslim leader who fought the Crusaders, a story 
previously filmed by Youssef Chahine in 1963. 

ALAOUIE, BORHANE (1941- ). Born in southern Lebanon, Alaouie 
moved to Brussels in 1968 to study filmmaking at the Institut na- 
tional superieur des aids du spectacle et techniques de diffusion. He 
earned his reputation as a masterful filmmaker and cultural critic with 
his reenactment of the 1956 Israeli massacre of Palestinians, Kfar 
Kassem (1973), based on the novel by Assem A1 Jundi and produced 
in Syria. Alaouie then collaborated with Tunisian filmmaker, Lotfi 
Tabet, on It Is Not Enough for God to Be with the Poor (1977), which 
follows architect Hassan Lathi on a tour of Egypt. Among a handful 
of filmmakers who continued to direct films during the Lebanese 


Civil War, Alaouie’s work engages the effect of war and exile. 
Filmed on location during the early stages of the war, Beirut the En- 
counter (1981) set a precedent for portraying the rupture of relation- 
ships and the allure of departure through intimate wartime stories. 
With Letter from a Time of Exile (1988), shot in Paris, Alaouie began 
a series of experimental documentaries about the fragmentation 
of exile, experienced abroad first, then within one’s country. Black 
Night Eclipse, his contribution to the Tunisia-produced omnibus 
film. The Gulf War . . . What Next? (1991), continues this explora- 
tion. Khalass (2007) shows seeds of hope in the friendship of three 
civil war survivors, despite renewed violence in Lebanon. Alaouie 
teaches at the Universite Saint Joseph in Beirut. 

AL-ARISS, ALI (1909-1965). The first Lebanese filmmaker, Al- 
Ariss directed two narrative features in the mid-1940s. The Rose 
Seller (1943) had limited success, but due to a controversy over ar- 
tistic control, Kawkab, Princess of the Desert (1946) attracted large 
audiences upon its release. These are considered the first “talkies” in 
Lebanon, with the Egyptian vernacular spoken in Rose, and a Bed- 
ouin vernacular in Kawkab. Like many Lebanese Muslims, Al-Ariss’ 
pan-Arabist politics favored building on the Egyptian model rather 
than creating a “Lebanese” cinema. 

AL-DEGHIDI, INAS (1954- ). A rare female director in the Egyp- 
tian film industry, al-Deghidi was born in Cairo and graduated from 
the Cairo Film Institute in 1975. She then worked as an assistant to 
both Salah Abu Seif and Henri Barakat before directing her own 
features, beginning with Excuse Me, It’s the Law (1985). Women are 
prominent in many of her films, and she has been credited with reen- 
visioning their relationships to one another and to the dominant male 
gaze of mainstream commercial films, in works such as Cheap Flesh 
(1995), Night Talk (1999), and Memoirs of an Adolescent (2002). 

Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria, Why? (1978), An Egyptian Story 
(1982), and Alexandria, Again and Forever (1990), to which his 
Alexandria . . . New York (2004) is sometimes added, comprise an 
unofficial, broadly autobiographical, reflexively cinematic record of 


this most honored Egyptian director’s career. The first film, set in 
Alexandria during World War II, intercuts autobiographical mate- 
rial-scenes of Chahine’s prototype, Yehia (Mohsen Mohieddin), at 
Victoria College, attending movies, staging satirical reviews, reciting 
Hamlet, and eventually boarding a boat to the United States to train 
as an actor at the Pasadena Playhouse — with documentary footage 
of the war, and with several other plotlines. These include the story 
of an Egyptian aristocrat with a habit of kidnapping and murdering 
Allied soldiers, who falls in love with his latest victim (a young, 
working-class man from Dover eventually killed at El Alamein, 
prompting a pacifist musical montage among the gravestones); and a 
pregnant Jewish woman and her family who, fleeing Egypt from the 
advancing Germans, end up disillusioned by Zionism in Palestine. 
Meanwhile her child’s father, a Muslim, participates half-heartedly 
in a crackpot scheme to assassinate Winston Churchill. The film is 
marked by its tonal breadth, abrupt editing, fantasy sequences, and 
overlapping narratives. 

An Egyptian Story is set in London, where the protagonist, Yehia, 
now played by New Realist film star Nur El-Sherif, has traveled 
from Egypt for heart surgery following a stroke suffered on the set 
of The Sparrow (1973), of which he is the temperamental, self-ab- 
sorbed director. However, by a device reminiscent of A Matter of Life 
and Death (Michael Powell, 1946), the operation is intercut with a 
fantastical courtroom trial scene set inside the protagonist’s rib-cage, 
where a 10-year-old Yehia is invoked, who periodically drops crys- 
tals into a large tube to illustrate how various life events — in addition 
to heavy smoking — have led to the clogging of his arteries. The film 
provides multiple flashbacks from the imaginary courtroom (also 
peopled with Yehia’s relatives) that convey the director’s relation- 
ships with women, men, and his career as a filmmaker. Clips from 
several of Chahine’s earlier films, including Cairo Station (1958), 
are inserted, as is documentary footage from notable events in Egyp- 
tian history— underscoring the film’s national-allegorical layering. 
Yehia’s yearning for recognition in the West is in turn foregrounded, 
as is his ambivalent relationship with American cinema and the 
United States. In one flashback, he is portrayed taking his Jamila, 
the Algerian (1958) to a Soviet film festival, wondering whether a 
filmmaker can be a revolutionary, where he meets Henri Langlois of 


the French cinematheque. To get a film made, in one comic scene, 
Yehia pretends it will be a sex-comedy. 

The most explicitly self-reflexive of the series, a film about the 
making of a film that switches abruptly between and across plots, is 
Alexandria, Again and Forever. In one respect, the film focuses on 
the relationship between Yehia, this time played by Chahine himself, 
and his young protege— and lover— Amir (Mohieddin). While Yehia 
wants to produce Shakespearean plays, wishing to see Amir cast as 
Hamlet, Amir himself is more interested in television and its osten- 
sibly more pedestrian fare. In addition, the film focuses on a 1987 
film industry strike in response to government changes in organizing 
laws. Once again, clips from other Chahine films are incorporated, 
with several from Cairo Station match-cut to Yehia and Amir as 
they dance, Singin ’ in the Rain- like, in the streets of Berlin, where 
they have traveled for the film festival. Although humor is still pres- 
ent— in a campy version of Anthony and Cleopatra , for instance, and 
by the use of accelerated footage— the film also expresses a deeper 
cynicism about Egyptian society. 

Alexandria . . . New York , by contrast, is set in the United States, 
cross-cutting between Yehia’s contemporary visit to New York City 
to attend a retrospective of his work and a historical record of his 
days at the Pasadena Playhouse during the 1940s. Yehia— again 
played by Chahine— has fathered a son in a reunion with Ginger, his 
lover from his Pasadena days. This son, Alexander, is now the lead 
dancer with the New York City Ballet, and represents a self-absorbed 
United States for which Egypt is denigrated as “barely on the map,” 
and the Arabs as savages who live in tents. Ultimately, Yehia rejects 
his egotistical, ignorant son, notwithstanding the latter’s skill and 
stature as a performing artist— a move clearly paralleling Chahine ’s 
rejection of a once-admired America; the film bristles with disparag- 
ing comments about the United States. However, the fact that the 
same actor (Ahmed Yehia) plays both the young Yehia and Alex- 
ander draws critical attention to similarities between the two, and 
to Yehia’s— indeed Chahine ’s — own egotism (also refracted across 
the earlier films in the series). Chahine apparently sees little hope 
in Alexandria or Egypt any longer either, while his attempt to draw 
parallels between his own career and Egypt’ s history has struck crit- 
ics as self-important. 


ALEXANDROWICZ, RA’ANAN (1969- ). Born in Israel to Soviet 
immigrants, Alexandrowicz is known for directing films that analyze 
critically the contradictions of Zionism. His first feature, James’ 
Journey to Jerusalem (2003), offers a scathing critique of Israeli 
capitalism that indicts both victims and victimizers. Alexandrowicz 
subsequently directed The Inner Tour (2001), a verite documentary 
that sympathetically depicts a group of Palestinians from the Occu- 
pied Palestinian Territories who have acquired tourist visas under 
the auspices of an Israeli bus tour in order to revisit briefly their 
ancestral village sites in Israel. 

ALGERIA. Much of Algeria, the second largest country in Africa, 
consists of the Sahara desert, with the major cities of Algiers and 
Oran positioned in the north on the long Mediterranean coast. It is 
bordered by Tunisia and Libya to the east, Niger, Mali, and Mauri- 
tania in the south, and Morocco as well as a sliver of the Western 
Sahara to the west. Once populated mostly by Berber peoples, the 
region, known together with modern-day Tunisia and Morocco (and 
sometimes, Libya and Mauritania) as the Maghreb, experienced suc- 
cessive waves of Arab Muslim immigration, and much of the region 
was united under Arab rule in the eighth century. Algeria became 
part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and earned notoriety as the 
base of the Barbary pirates until the early 19th century. The French 
invaded the country in 1830, and Algeria became an integral part of 
the French colonial system. 

The assimilationist policies characteristic of French colonial rule, 
whereby the elite of colonized peoples were instructed in French 
culture and history and groomed as “overseas Frenchmen,” were ap- 
plied somewhat differently in Algeria than elsewhere, as a very large 
number of French and other European settlers arrived, and the coun- 
try, uniquely, became a part of France, consisting of three regional 
departements. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Arab and Berber Al- 
gerians were not given French citizenship. Thus two parallel cultures 
existed in the country by the beginning of the 20th century, and this 
is reflected in the cinema, which was the exclusive provenance of the 
European settlers prior to independence in 1962. Thus, the represen- 
tation of Arabs in French-made Algerian films was typical of colonial 
cinema in their portrayal of happy fools or uncivilized ruffians. 


By 1954, 300 cinematheques, based in the country’s northern 
urban centers, were serving settler audiences. Algeria was also the 
setting for exotic adventure films, of which Julien Duvivier’s poetic 
realist classic, Pepe Le Moko (1937), is the best-known. Not a single 
feature was made by an Algerian during this period. However, it 
seems likely that the colonial practice of depicting the indigenous, 
non-European population as barbarians in need of civilizing guidance 
may have backfired, since the clear evidence these films supply of 
French colonial-settler— or pied-noir — racism and class conscious- 
ness seems to have helped catalyze the anticolonial struggle. 

Many Algerians fought alongside the French in World War II, 
but calls for independence after the defeat of Nazism were met with 
the brutal suppression of demonstrators in May 1945. The war for 
liberation began in 1954, led by the Front de Liberation Nationale 
(FLN). The French fought hard to maintain control, but their resolve 
was weakened by determined resistance, failure in Southeast Asia, 
and increasing anticolonial sentiment at home, until, in 1962, inde- 
pendence was conceded. Algerian national cinema started just before, 
when the provisional govemment-in-exile created a production unit 
and then a film school directed by Rene Vautier, a French filmmaker 
active in the FFN. Vautier trained the earliest Algerian filmmakers, 
including Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, Amar Faskri, and Ahmed 
Rachedi, who made shorts from FFN bases in Tunisia. 

Most of the major institutions organized by the newly independent 
Algerian state directly modeled those in France or those established 
during the colonial era. The government dictated the themes that 
films were to treat, privileging prevailing ideologies of national 
unity. The focus of virtually all filmmaking during those early years 
(cinema moujahid) was the war of liberation, a subject vital to the 
first generation of Algerian filmmakers, many of whom had been 
active in the stmggle. In 1963, the state created its production orga- 
nization, the Office des actualities Algeriennes, the focus of which 
gradually shifted from newsreel productions to short documenta- 
ries, then to fictional features, including Fakhdar-Hamina’s The 
Wind of the Aures (1966). Meanwhile, Mustapha Badie directed 
the ambitious The Night Is Afraid of the Sun (1966), a three-hour 
epic study of the origins, development, and outcome of the war, for 
the Centre national du cinema. In addition, the state television 


organization. Radiodiffusion Television Algerienne, founded in 
1962, supported cinema development by co-producing films and 
training professionals. 

In 1966, Gillo Pontecorvo’s acclaimed realist recreation. The 
Battle of Algiers, was released. The Algerian state nationalized 
the country’s exhibition sector, built postproduction facilities, and 
opened the Office national pour le commerce et l’industrie ci- 
nematographiques (ONCIC), a state-run monopoly production 
agency responsible for some of the most influential Arab and African 
films, marked by their directors’ personal critical perspectives and 
cinematic styles. The first ONCIC film. The Way (Mohamed Slim 
Riad, 1968), analyzes its director’s experiences as a prisoner of war 
in France. ONCIC subsequently moved into co-production, lending 
support to three films directed by Egyptian filmmaker, Youssef 
Chahine, and, in 1975, to Chronicle of the Years of Embers, Lakh- 
dar-Hamina’s epic account of events leading up to the establishment 
of the independent Algerian state, and the first Arab (or, for that mat- 
ter, African) film to win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’or. By 
that time, Lakhdar-Hamina had assumed a position of power within 
ONCIC, of which he would eventually serve as director from 1981 
to 1984. 

During the 1970s, Algerian cinema shifted focus to the theme of 
agrarian reform, the subject of The Charcoal Burner (Mohamed 
Bouamari, 1972), Noua (Abdelaziz Tolbi, 1972), and The Nomads 
(Sid Ali Mazif, 1975). The period also witnessed the appearance of 
a “new cinema” ( cinema djidid ) — films made on low budgets, and 
typically utilizing neorealist approaches to treat social problems. 
A new generation of filmmakers had begun to represent Algeria’s 
everyday economic, cultural, and sociological life in films such as 
Omar Gatlato (Merzak Allouache, 1976), Children of the Wind 
(Brahim Tsaki, 1981), and Nahla (Farouk Beloufa, 1979). 

ONCIC was disbanded in 1984; its duties were split between sepa- 
rate production and distribution agencies, and further reforms fol- 
lowed in 1987, when the Centre Algerien pour l’art et l’industrie 
cinematographiques (CAAIC) assumed both duties, while the 
reorganized state television company also offered support to film- 
makers and increasingly cooperated with CAAIC. Emigration and 
the difficulties encountered by Algerians in France were the subject 


of films such as Ali in Wonderland (Rachedi, 1978), and several 
more focused on women’s issues, including Houria (Mazif, 1986). 
Initially, the 1987 reforms seemed to favor indigenous Algerian 
production, but after a promising start to the 1990s, Algerian cinema 
declined rapidly in the face of the country’s internal political turmoil 
and the rise of Islamist movements. Still further reorganization fol- 
lowed in October 1993, and the ensuing social and industrial confu- 
sion and chaos became refracted across a number of films, including 
Touchia (Mohamed Rachid Benhadj, 1993), The Honor of the 
Tribe (Mahmoud Zemmouri, 1993), Youssef: The Legend of the 
Seventh Sleeper (Mohamed Chouikh, 1993), and Bab el-Oued City 
(Allouache, 1994). 

These circumstances also forced a number of filmmakers into exile 
or silence. Funding was sought increasingly from Europe, particularly 
France, and exhibition was limited primarily to film festivals and 
European art-houses. Cinema audiences declined from nine million 
in 1980 to one-half million in 1992, and the 458 cinemas existing to 
serve a colonial audience at the time of Independence was reduced to 
15 by 1999. After 1995, film production in Algeria had been reduced 
to one or two films per year, most of them French co-productions that 
retreat from urban settings and evidence a shift from realistic narra- 
tives to fables and allegories. In The Desert Ark (Chouikh, 1997), 
for example, interethnic struggles within a remote desert community 
tinged with a mysticism that nonetheless resists orientalism serve to 
metaphorize contemporary Algeria. Some filmmakers turned to the 
Atlas Mountains, and the first three films in Kabyle, the Algerian Ber- 
ber language, were released between 1995 and 1997. When CAAIC 
was shut down in 1998, however, numerous filmmakers were left with 
incomplete films, and by the end of the decade, most of the country’s 
major directors had chosen to live abroad, as Algerian cinema became 
largely exilic. The requirements of filming in exile and depending 
upon European financing necessitated the emergence of an Algerian 
cinema designated as such by the nationality of its filmmakers rather 
than by shooting locations, and by its treatment of subjects specific to 
the Algerian experience, including immigration, women’s struggles, 
and internal conflicts. Allouache made two films in France, where 
Zemmouri also directed his musical comedy, 100% Arabica (1997), 
while Benhadj shot Mirka (1999) in Italy. 


Films made after the turn of the 21st century have been few in 
number, and have continued to emphasize similar themes. Several 
have examined the challenges facing Algerian women, including 
Rcichida (Yamina Bachir-Chouikh, 2002), The Beacon (Belkacem 
Hadjaj, 2004), and Enough! (Djamila Sahraoui, 2006). Unsurpris- 
ingly, the subject of emigration and return has also been prominent, 
not least in the work of beur filmmakers Mehdi Charef ( Daughter of 
Keltoum [2001]) and Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche ( Wesh Wesh, What’s 
Happening? [2001]). Meanwhile, Algerian exiles and beur directors 
have continued to focus on the Algerian immigrant community in 
France, as in Salut Cousin! (Allouache, 1996) and Neighbors (Malik 
Chibane, 2005). In addition. Days of Glory (Rachid Bouchareb, 
2006), an expose of the poor treatment and lack of recognition given 
to Algerian (and, more broadly. North African) soldiers serving in 
World War II, brought some of the actions and effects of colonialism 
to a wider audience. 

AL-GINDI, NADIA (also NADIA EL-GUINDY) (1940- ). Egypt’s 
biggest female star throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Al- 
Gindi broke into cinema after winning a prize in a beauty contest. 
She was married to actor Emad Hamdi for 10 years, while she played 
supporting roles in various generic melodramas. From the mid-1980s 
on, however, al-Gindi was cast increasingly in action films and, in 
time, especially espionage films. These were often directed by Nader 
Galal, examples being Mission in Tel Aviv (1992) and 48 Hours in 
Israel (1998). Her roles have typically been as feminine, sexualized 
characters who outwit their rivals. Only rarely has al-Gindi worked 
with less commercial or mainstream directors — although she ap- 
peared in Khairy Beshara’s Wild Desire (1991). 

ALI ZAOUA, PRINCE OF THE STREETS (2000). Nabil Ayouch’s 

second feature revolves around four 12-year-old street children in 
Casablanca struggling to free themselves from an onerous gang 
leader and his abusive followers; in the struggle, Ali is killed. The 
body of the film follows his three comrades, played by actual street 
children, as they seek to honor Ali’s memory and dreams (of becom- 
ing a sailor) by burying him at sea. In the process, they locate Ali’s 
estranged mother, a prostitute, and befriend a helpful old sailor will- 


ing to believe in them and help them overcome obstacles. Ayouch 
interweaves animated sequences of Ali’s often drug-induced dreams 
with harsh depictions of the struggles street children face, thus mix- 
ing realism with experimental fantasy. In particular, the film treats 
the street children humanistically, relying less on stereotypes and 
more on sympathetic personal interrogation of their lives. By the 
same token, the film’s visual lushness, which lends it a romantic 
quality quite distinct from Third Cinema aesthetics, has incurred 
some scholarly criticism. The film was a smash hit in Morocco and 
won many national and international awards. 

AL-JAZEERA. This Arab satellite news station started broadcasting 
from Doha, Qatar, a small oil-rich state on the Persian-Arabian Gulf, 
in 1996. A grant from Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who had 
come to power in a bloodless coup the previous year, established 
the station, partly to fill a vacuum left by the break-up of the Brit- 
ish Broadcasting Authority’s (BBC) Saudi-based Arabic Television 
Network, and to supply continued employment to many of the jour- 
nalists who had previously worked there. To some degree, Al-Jazeera 
was modeled on the supposed objectivity of the BBC, adopting the 
motto, “Give the opinion, then give the other opinion” — although 
debate exists over the degree of influence exercised by the Qatari 
government. Still, the emir has apparently resisted increased pressure 
from the United States since its 2003 invasion of Iraq to dissuade the 
station from broadcasting material perceived as anti-American by the 
U.S. government. 

The evident professionalism, wide coverage of issues, and relative 
objectivity of Al-Jazeera quickly made the station popular in much of 
the Arab world, where govemment-run terrestrial channels are typi- 
cally heavily censored. It has displaced the BBC and Cable News 
Network as the preferred news station in most Middle Eastern coun- 
tries. The station was brought to worldwide attention at the onset of 
the war in Afghanistan. Since then, it has expanded into sports pro- 
gramming and, in November 2006, into English-language broadcast- 
ing through Al-Jazeera English, based in Doha, London, Washington, 
and Kuala Lumpar, and managed largely by British journalists, in- 
cluding Robert Fisk. The station is the subject of a widely distributed 
documentary, Control Room (Jehane Noujam, U.S., 2004). 


Al-Jazeera’s success has spurred the establishment of several other 
satellite news stations in the Middle East, although none as free of 
their funders’ influence. Many are either directly funded by the ruling 
family of Saudi Arabia— as in the case of Al-Jazeera’s most impor- 
tant rival, Al-Arabiyya— or are recipients of Saudi funding. 


nongovernmental organization established in Jerusalem in 1970 as 
Theatre Arts Group. In 1987, following the First Intifada, due to 
violence, general strikes, and a suffering economy, all theaters and 
cinemas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) closed. 
Relocated to Ramallah in June 2000, as Al-Kasaba, it was the first 
theater and cinematheque established after a 13-year hiatus. The cur- 
rent location houses seating halls and a gallery, and is the only pro- 
fessional fully equipped venue in the OPTs for theater productions, 
visual exhibitions, musical performances, and films. It hosts three 
daily film screenings, including international blockbusters, children’s 
films, Palestinian and Israeli features, and documentaries, in ad- 
dition to special film weeks and festivals. Al-Kasaba also assists 
playwrights, filmmakers, and other artists marketing to Palestinian 

ALLOUACHE, MERZAK (1944- ). Born in Algiers, Allouache 
graduated from the Institut national du cinema d’Alger and, in 1967, 
the Institut des hautes etudes cinematographiques in France, first 
working at the Office des actualites Algeriennes, then at the Centre 
national du cinema, where he directed documentaries. He is one of 
Algeria’s most prolific directors, with more than 14 films between 
Algeria and France, where he spent the most turbulent years of Alge- 
ria’s unrest. Allouache’ s films always manage to involve Algeria, for 
example by portraying Algerian immigrants in France. 

His first feature, Omar Gatlato (1976), was hailed by French crit- 
ics as the declaration of a New Algerian Cinema ( cinema djidid ); its 
success suggested that Algerians craved films that would deal com- 
plexly with Algerian social reality. Bab el-Oued City (1994), filmed 
in Algeria during the civil war and edited in France, captured the 
beginnings of the war from the same poor district of Algiers in which 
Omar Gatlato is set. Salut Cousin! (1996), a French coproduction, 


dramatizes with lighthearted humor the obstacles and challenges fac- 
ing diasporic Algerians in Paris trying both to earn a living and enjoy 
life under postcolonial conditions, by playing upon the projection 
by Algerians themselves of Western anti-Arab stereotypes onto the 
beur community. Returning to Algiers in 1999, Allouache directed 
The Other World (2001), about a young French woman’s search for 
her Algerian lover, who has been kidnapped by an armed militia. 
Characteristic of cinema djidid , this film complicates the relation- 
ship between “the people,” the army, and the Islamists, refusing to 
characterize the national struggle and violence in Algeria in simple 
moral terms. 

Allouache’ s subsequent Bab el Web (2004) revolves around a 
cybercafe in Bab el-Oued, from which the broke but enterprising 
Bouzid (played by Faudel, a well-known singer) casually invites a 
female cyber-pal in Paris to visit him, not realizing how costly this 
will be for both him and his likewise penniless brother. For 40 years, 
Allouache’ s films have examined the uneasy, neocolonial relation- 
ship between Algeria and France. 

Tamanrasset (2007) is a made-for-television film set in the south 
of Algeria that depicts the plight of African immigrants from Mali 
who cross the border in the hope of eventually getting to Europe. 
Allouache’ s latest film, Harragas, is in postproduction in 2009. 

ALMAGOR, GILA (1939- ). One of IsraeFs foremost actresses, Gila 
Almagor has starred in countless Israeli films and stage plays. She 
is perhaps most famous for her roles in Summer of Aviya (1988) and 
its sequel. Under the Domim Tree (1995), both directed by Eli Co- 
hen and based upon autobiographical novels recounting Almagor’ s 
childhood and young adulthood in Israel, during which she and her 
mother, a Holocaust survivor, faced difficulty assimilating into 
Israeli society and its ersatz Middle Eastern milieu. Almagor’ s 
embodiment of the Zionist imperative for Jews to assimilate an ide- 
alized “Oriental” culture while rejecting actual Jewish-Arab history 
is palpable in the bourekas film, Sallach Shabbati (Ephraim Kishon, 
1964), a musical comedy in which she plays an Ashkenazi (Eastem- 
European-Jewish) kibbutznik who falls in love with a Mizrahi (Arab- 
Jewish) immigrant; and in The House on Chelouche Street (Moshe 
Mizrahi, 1973), a post -bourekas melodrama in which Almagor offers 


one of Israeli cinema’s early sympathetic portrayals of a Mizrahi 
woman struggling to survive against the odds. Likewise, in Siege 
(Gilberto Tofano, 1969), a poetic realist work of the Young Israeli 
Cinema, Almagor plays a war widow who allegorizes a nostalgic, 
almost mythological buttressing of Zionism in the context of Israel’s 
demographic reconfiguration following the Six-Day War. 

Upon massive Mizrahi defection from the moderate Labor Party to 
the right-wing Likud Party throughout the 1980s, Almagor returned 
to less progressive Mizrahi roles in, for instance, Sh’chur (Shmuel 
Hasfari, 1994), Passover Fever (Shemi Zarhin, 1995), and, much 
later. Three Mothers (Dina Zvi-Riklis, 2006), in which she appears as 
a paradigmatic maternal figure. Her latest role is in The Debt (Assaf 
Bernstein, 2007), in which she stars as a former Mossad agent who 
assisted in the capture of a Nazi war criminal. See also ISRAELI OC- 

AL-QATTAN, OMAR (1964- ). Born in Beirut, educated at Oxford 
and Belgium’s Institut national superieur des arts du spectacle et 
techniques de diffusion, Al-Qattan was assistant and executive 
producer on a number of Palestinian films in the late 1980s, includ- 
ing some by Michel Khleifi. He has directed four documentaries: 
Dreams and Silence (1991), a portrait of a Palestinian refugee in 
Jordan; Going Home (1995), the recollections of an ex-British 
Mandate army major; made-for-television Muhammad, Legacy of a 
Prophet (2002), a reconstruction of contemporary rituals evoking the 
Prophet’s life; and Diary of an Arts Competition / Under Occupation 
(2002), a record of an art exhibition organized during the Al-Aqsa 
Intifada’s West Bank curfews. Al-Qattan also produces educational 
Arabic-language CD-ROMs (under Sindibad Multimedia, which he 
founded); is a trustee of the A. M. Qattan Foundation, an independent 
Palestinian cultural and educational organization based in Ramallah; 
and, in 2004, launched the Palestinian Audio-Visual Programme 
(PAV). PAV runs cinema clubs in schools across the Occupied Pal- 
estinian Territories, offers grants to young filmmakers and artists, 
and under Michel Khleifi’ s supervision offers training programs for 
aspiring Palestinian filmmakers. 

AMEUR-ZAIMECHE, rabah • 27 

AL-RAHEB, WAHA (1960- ). Bom in Cairo, Egypt, to Syrian par- 
ents, Damascus-based Waha Al-Raheb is a filmmaker, actress, and 
writer. Educated in France, Al-Raheb published a thesis on women 
in Syrian cinema from the 1960s through the mid-1980s. With a ca- 
reer spanning movie and television projects, she wrote and directed 
the 2003 film. Dreamy Visions , the first Syrian feature made by a 
woman. Integrating surreal moments of fantasy, the film focuses on 
a highly intelligent but oppressed young woman who finally rebels 
and leaves home to become a guerrilla fighter in Lebanon. Al-Raheb 
herself plays a neighbor and friend who is also traumatized by patri- 
archy. Al-Raheb was challenged by censorship both during stages of 
development of her screenplay in Syria, and, according to the film- 
maker, in attempts to get her film screened at film festivals abroad 
in the post-9/ 1 1 era due to its political content. 

AMEUR-ZAIMECHE, RABAH (1966- ). Of Algerian origin, beur 
filmmaker Rabah Ameur-Zai'meche has lived in France since 1968, 
where his own life struggles have been his main source of inspira- 
tion. In his first directorial feature, Wesh Wesh, What’s Happening? 
(2001), Ameur-Zai'meche also stars as Kamel, a young Maghrebi 
who returns home to the impoverished Paris suburbs ( banlieues ) 
after an absence of seven years, having spent five in a French prison 
and two deported to his native Algeria (under a 1993 French law, 
Franco-Maghrebis may be denied citizenship if they are sentenced 
to more than six months in jail). Although he tries to reestablish his 
life in France, he is impeded at every turn by his illegal status and the 
French police who harass him and his delinquent brother. Mousse, 
a drug dealer, notwithstanding assistance from his well-intentioned 
French Communist girlfriend, a local schoolteacher. Following a raid 
in which the police spray his mother with mace, Kamel kills one of 
the officers and steals his gun; the film concludes ambiguously, as 
the police chase Kamel into a woods from which the distant sound of 
two gunshots marks the film’s final moment. In his subsequent Bled 
Number One / Back Home (2005), Ameur-Zai'meche plays a former 
prisoner expelled from France to Algeria, a country now viewed from 
a Europeanized perspective and with a sense of cultural shock. The 


film raises questions about humanity and transnational migratory 
flows in an unobtrusive, semidocumentary style. Dernier maquis / 
Final Resistance (2008) is a factory-set film of considerable visual 
beauty that raises issues of Islamic identity in the beur community. 

AMIN, MERVAT (1946- ). Born in Minya, Egypt, Amin came to 
fame playing opposite Abdel Halim Hafez in the phenomenally suc- 
cessful, My Father Is Up the Tree (Hussein Kamal, 1969). She was 
part of a new generation of stars that also included Nur El-Sherif, 
Mahmud Yassin, and Husayn Fahmi, to the last of whom she was 
married from 1974 to 1986. Amin was a major presence in Egyptian 
cinema throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and has made occasional ap- 
pearances since. Among her most notable films are: Adrift on the Nile 
(Kamal, 197 1); the seminal New Realist work. The Bus Driver (Atef 
El-Tayeb, 1982); Wife of an Important Man (Mohamed Khan, 
1987), with Ahmed Zaki; and the film that marked Omar Sharif’s 
return to Egypt, The Puppeteer (Hani Lashin, 1989). 

AMIRALAY, OMAR (1944- ). The progenitor of modern Syrian 
documentary filmmaking, Amiralay was bom in Damascus to an Ot- 
toman military officer and a Lebanese woman. During the 1960s, he 
studied in Paris, first painting and drama at the Theatre des Nations, 
then cinema at the Institut des hautes etudes cinematographiques. 
The unrest of May 1968 led him to reject fictional cinema, and his 
first (student) film was a documentary report on street protestors. 
Upon his return to Syria, Amiralay was hired to direct documentaries 
for the National Film Organization, but when his second and third 
films were banned by the Censor Board, he ceased working for the 
state and became an independent filmmaker. 

To date, only Amiralay’s first film has been screened publicly in 
Syria. Film-Essay on the Euphrates Dam (1970) documents the Ba‘th 
Party’s modernization project, comparable to Gamal Abdel Nass- 
er’s Aswan project in Egypt, to construct a series of dams across 
major Syrian rivers in order to facilitate water distribution (especially 
irrigation) and provide rural areas with electricity. The flooding of 
ancient, low-lying villages and the resettlement of their inhabitants 
onto higher ground are depicted affirmatively, in the style of Soviet 
visionary Dziga Vertov. Amiralay’s subsequent documentaries de- 


ploy techniques more akin to socialist realism — toward much differ- 
ent ends. Everyday Life in a Syrian Village (1974) and The Chickens 
(1977) critique the detrimental effects of industrial modernization on 
the peasantry. 

Realizing that alternative exhibition venues would be necessary 
for this kind of filmmaking, Amiralay helped found the Damascus 
Cinema Club along with Mohammad Malas, with whom he and 
Oussama Mohammad would later co-direct Shadows and Light, the 
Last of the Pioneers: Nazih Sluihhandar ( 1 994), a documentary hom- 
age to the pioneer of Syrian cinema that is also an ode to filmmakers 
who have suffered from censorship. The trio then made Moudaress 
(1996), a documentary about the poet, novelist, and painter, Fateh 
al-Moudaress, former secretary general of the Syrian Syndicate for 
the Visual Arts. 

After government suppression increased in Syria following the 
1979 Camp David Accords, Amiralay went into exile in France, di- 
recting documentaries for television about sociopolitical conditions 
and events in Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine-Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, 
and elsewhere. Amiralay first returned to Syria in 1991; yet, he is 
equally at home in Beirut and Damascus and carries dual national- 
ity. His Lebanese films include On a Day of Ordinary Violence, My 
Lriend Michel Seurat . . . (1996), which concerns the abduction of a 
French sociologist who died in captivity during the so-called West- 
ern hostage crisis in the 1980s, and The Man with the Golden Soles 
(2000), which critically pursues charismatic former Prime Minister 
Rafiq Hariri, who spearheaded the reconstruction projects of postwar 
Lebanon, and whose assassination in 2005 radically affected the po- 
litical landscape of Lebanon and precipitated renewed violence. 

Returning to Syria, seemingly with the goal of establishing an 
Arab film school in cooperation with Denmark, Amiralay directed a 
“corrective” to Lilm-Essay entitled A Elood in Baath Country (2003), 
in which the devastating effects of the Euphrates Dam project on 
the small village of Al-Mashi are exposed through interviews with 
villagers and state functionaries juxtaposed to reveal as dissimula- 
tion the government propaganda that has continued to laud rural 
industrial development. Although Flood was also banned in Syria, 
pirated DVDs have, according to Amiralay, been distributed widely 
throughout the country. 


ANIMATION. In Iran, the art of animation cinema started during the 
late 1950s through the efforts of graphic artist and animator, Noured- 
din Zarrinkelk, who founded the Institute for the Intellectual 
Development of Children and Young Adults, along with graphic 
designer, Morteza Momayez, and illustrators, designers, and artists 
such as Farshid Mesghali and Ali Akbar Sadeghi. The first Tehran 
International Animation Festival screened 488 animation titles, both 
domestic and international, while the Second Festival (2001) saw 35 
foreign countries submitting their films for screening in addition to 
Iranian entries. Renowned Iranian animators include Abdollah Ali- 
morad, Abolfazl Razani, Akbar Alemi, Ebrahim Forouzesh, Saeed 
Tavakkolian, and Nahid Shamsdoost. Animation films and animators 
are well-supported by the Iranian government, which backs courses in 
various animation styles and techniques such as silhouette animation, 
claymation, puppetry and stop-motion, water-color, and yarn objects 
at major universities including Tehran University, Arts University, 
Islamic Azad University, and the Islamic School of Cinema. The 
Little World of Bahador (Alimorad, 2000) invests animation with 
political allegory through the story of a group of brave mice, under 
the leadership of Bahador, who depose a cruel and tyrannical king 
to secure their freedom. The exilic Iranian graphic artist Marjane 
Satrapi’s graphic novel-turned-animated feature, Persepolis (2007), 
a French co-production, was initially banned in Iran due to its alleged 
misrepresentation of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The govern- 
ment subsequently relented, and the film has had limited screenings 
in Tehran with scenes with sexual content deleted. 

The history of Egyptian animation begins with the films of the 
Herschel brothers, Salomon, David, and Frenkel, recent immigrants 
from then-Soviet Belarus, whose protagonist, Mish-Mish Effendi, 
was introduced in Nothing to Do (1936) and appeared in several 
sequels. In 1960, Ali Muhib and his brother, Husam, started an ani- 
mation section within the Egyptian national television channel, and 
in 1962, Ali Muhib directed The White Line , which mixes animation 
and live action; he later directed the first Arab animation film series, 
Mishgias Sawah (1979), which ran for 30 episodes. Noshi Iskan- 
dar, a caricaturist, directed One and Five, a trilogy of films on the 
Six-Day War and the Defeat, Is It True?, Abd and Al, and Question 
(all 1969), and Excellent (1975), a critique of corruption. Other im- 


portant figures are Ihab Shaker (The Flower and the Bottle [1968]), 
Radha Djubran ( Story of a Brat [1985]; The Lazy Sparrow [1991]), 
Abdellaim Zaki, who directed a considerable number of animated 
commercials, Mohamed Ghazala, also an educator and historian of 
the subject ( Carnival [2001]; Crazy Works [2002]; HM [2005]), and 
two women, CalArts-trained Mona Abou El Nasr ( Survival [1988]) 
and Zeinab Zamzam (A Terra-cotta Dream [1997]; Open Your Eyes 
[2000]), who has produced a large number of mostly Islamic-themed 
animations using old-fashioned claymation techniques. Egypt wit- 
nessed an expansion of animation facilities during the 1990s and 
2000s. In addition to programs at universities, such as the one started 
by Ghazala at Minya University, there are at least 10 significant ani- 
mation studios— including Abou El Nasr’s Cairo Cartoon Studio and 
Zamzam’ s Zamzam Media— operating and producing animations for 
television, commercials, and the occasional short film. Much of this 
material is shown in other parts of the Arab world, and some are co- 
productions with Gulf states. 

Animation is somewhat less developed throughout the rest of the 
Middle East, but it is a significant presence in Lebanese film and 
video, notably in the work of Lena Mehrej, who curated Lebanese 
animations for the Festival International de La Bande Dessinee, held 
in Beirut in 2003. Mehrej has also been associated with Future TV, 
where Syrian-born, United States-educated Lina Ghaibeh has cre- 
ated most of her animation work, and which periodically features 
short animations about political issues by Edgar Aho and Jad Khouri. 
Many Lebanese video artists employ animation techniques, particu- 
larly in conjunction with photographic or video material, evident in 
the work of Walid Raad, Akram Zaatari, Ali Cherri, Hisham Bizri, 
and Ziad Antar. 

In Israel, in recent years, there has been considerable, well- 
funded development of digital technology, largely for intelligence 
purposes; however, the by-product of this has been a digital media 
boom that has facilitated film- and video-making by Israelis at lower 
production budgets, particularly animation, with the best-known and 
most-widely distributed Israeli animation being the well-publicized 
Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008). This feature-length war film 
analyzes an Israeli soldier’s struggle to come to terms with his par- 
ticipation in the Israel Defense Forces collaboration in the massive 


slaughter of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 
Lebanon in 1982. 

The first Algerian animation film. The Tree Party (1963), was the 
work of Mohamed Aram, and is a plea to re grow vegetation destroyed 
in the just-finished war of liberation against France. The Maghreb 
is also the setting for Azur and Asmar (2008), by well-established 
French animator Michel Ocelot. It tells the story of two boys, one 
French, one Maghrebi, who are separated by the independence strug- 
gle. Perhaps the most widely available examples of Maghrebi anima- 
tion, however, are the animated sequences of Ali Zaoua: Prince of 
the Streets (Nabil Ayouch, 1999), which provide an imagined better 
life for the street children of Casablanca. (Although they do not be- 
come part of the narrative world in the same way, the link by which 
animation provides an alternative environment for underprivileged 
children is also powerfully present in Ticket to Jerusalem [Rashid 
Masharawi, 2002], in which the protagonist screens animation films 
in Arabic to Palestinian children, many of them refugees.) 

Early instances of Turkish animation include Cemal Nadir 
Giiler’s attempt to animate his character Amca Bey (“Mr. Uncle”) 
during the 1940s; a short animation film made in a student workshop 
organized by Vedat Ar at the Istanbul State Fine Art Academy; and 
the animated feature Once Upon a Time (Turgut Demirag and Yiiksel 
Unsal, 1951)— purportedly completed but its only print lost when 
sent to the United States for post-production. Turkish animation be- 
gan regular production during the 1960s, largely at Vedat Ar’s Filmar 
Studio, which created animated commercials for various companies, 
as well as cultural productions about famous Turks and Turkish his- 
torical figures for banks. Animation became a category at the Hisar 
Short Film Festival in 1970, and important animations of the period 
include Censor (Tan Oral, 1969), which criticized the censorship 
of art, and How Did the Amentii Ship Sail? (Tongue Y agar, 1972), 
an attempt at animating Ottoman calligraphy. The first animation 
department in Turkey was opened in 1984 at Eskigehir Anadolu 
University. Since the 1980s, Turkish State Radio and the Ministry 
of Culture have supported animation productions, especially those 
intended for children. 

Iraqi-born, U.S. -based Usama Alshaibi’s five-minute digital ani- 
mation, Allahu Akbar (2003), uses complex and revolving geometric 


patterns similar to those traditionally used to represent the perfection 
of deity and as a substitute for the proscribed image of the Prophet 
in much Middle Eastern Islamic art and architecture. Paris-based, 
Moroccan-born Mounir Fatmi, who abandoned painting for the 
camera, includes somewhat similar digital animations in his work 
collected in Hard Head : Films of Mounir Fatmi (2008). 

ARAB FILM DISTRIBUTION (AFD). Located in Seattle, Wash- 
ington, AFD is the largest distributor of Arab and Middle Eastern 
cinema in North America. Starting with five films in 1990 after the 
first-ever Arab film festival in the United States at the Goodwill 
Arts Games in Seattle, AFD’s inventory has since multiplied one- 
hundred-fold to include features, documentaries, and short films 
from the Middle East, Maghreb, and South Asia, as well as exilic 
and diasporic Arab cinema produced in North America, Europe, and 
elsewhere. Providing material available for sale and rental for home 
and institutional uses, and the festival circuits, AFD remains one of 
the few dedicated sources in North America for Arab cinema. 

( 1929 - 2004 ). Founder of the Fateh political party in 1956, chairman 
of the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1969 to 2004, and 
president and prime minister of the Palestinian National Author- 
ity from 1994 to 2004, Abdel Rahman Abdel Ra’uf Arafat (known 
informally as Abu Ammar) was the most widely recognized persona 
of the Palestinian cause for his roles as guerrilla/freedom fighter, un- 
official diplomat, political organizer, peace negotiator, and national 
leader. Sometimes credited as the father of the modern Palestinian 
nation, interpretations of his impact are controversial. Most of his 
onscreen appearances are in news footage, with the exception of 
documentaries in which he is the central subject. Anthony Geffen’s 
made-for-television The Faces of Arafat (1990) traces 40 years of 
Arafat’s personal and political life. Arafat’s last public interview was 
conducted by filmmaker Sherine Salama in The Last Days of Yasser 
Arafat (2006), a story about Salama’s months-long negotiations in 
obtaining the interview, and reactions to Arafat in interviews with his 
associates and people who did not know him (cab drivers, villagers, 
and Western journalists waiting for interviews). Arafat, My Brother 

34 • AR, MUJDE 

(Rashid Masharawi, 2005) is an account of Arafat recounted by the 
leader’s estranged brother. 

AR, MUJDE (1954- ). The daughter of a famous songwriter, Ar began 
her career as a model and theatrical performer before acting in a tele- 
vision series in 1974. While appearing in various genre films during 
the 1970s, including comedies, action-adventures, and melodramas, 
Ar became the paradigmatic star figure in the women’s films of the 
late Yesilyam period. In these films, which focused on the social 
conditions of women in Turkey, Ar often portrayed strong female 
characters who try, despite patriarchal pressures, to achieve self-de- 
termination. Still active as a performer and television personality, Ar 
has since appeared as the stereotypical attractive passionate woman 
in Fahriye, the Older Sister (Yavuz Turgul, 1987) and My Aunt 
(Halit Refig, 1986), and as the enigmatic and unknowable woman 
of male fantasies in Atif Ydmaz’s Her Name Is Vasfiye (1985) and 
Aaah Belinda (1986). 

ARBID, DANIELLE (1970- ). Arbid began her career as a broad- 
cast journalist for European television in the early 1990s. That 
background enabled her to produce several insightful documen- 
tary critiques of Lebanon. Alone with the War (2000) follows 
Arbid through the streets of Beirut as she asks people, “Why isn’t 
there a monument dedicated to those who died in the war?” In one 
particularly powerful scene at Shatila refugee camp, she talks with 
several Palestinian children who tell her matter-of-factly that they 
are still finding bodies in the ground. Since then, Arbid has made 
several short documentaries with her Christian family that accentu- 
ate the everyday violence that haunts the postwar domestic sphere, 
including Conversation in the Salon (2004) and We (2005). This 
theme gains powerful representation in her first narrative feature, 
In the Battlefields (2004). Arbid’s subsequent film, The Lost Man 
(2007), is a cross-cultural encounter between a French photogra- 
pher and an Arab amnesiac that plumbs the seedy underground 
culture of Jordan. 

ARKIN, CUNEYT (1937- ). Trained as a doctor in Turkey, Arkin 
began acting after his good looks were noticed by a film director. 


During the mid-1960s, he played the handsome male lead in melo- 
dramas and romantic comedies, but would accrue fame for his roles 
in later action and historical adventure films, westerns, karate films, 
and costume dramas. Like other stars of the high Ye^il^am period, 
Arkin acted in a very large number of films — in his case, almost 
300. These included Turkified science-fiction films, in which he is 
depicted performing stunts in circus acts, fight sequences, and horse- 
back-riding scenes. After starring in the Malkogoglu film series as an 
early Ottoman warrior hero, he continued to play similarly cartoonish 
characters, including Battal Gazi or Kara Murat, who fight and kill 
the enemies of the Turks or Ottomans, in action-adventure films. 
Arkin gained international attention for his lead role in The Man 
Who Saves the World (Cetin inan£, 1982), a low -budget genre piece 
known as the Turkish Star Wars. 

ARNA’S CHILDREN (2003). Co-directed by Juliano Mer and Dutch 
filmmaker, Danniel Danniel, this verite documentary analyzes the 
historical changes in conditions and perspectives that have occurred 
within Jenin Refugee Camp since Israel’s 2002 reinvasion of the 
Occupied Palestinian Territories. Arna’s Children portrays the 
director’s mother, Arna, conducting educational theater workshops 
with the children of Jenin Camp from 1989 to 1996. The film alter- 
nates between Ama’s educational sessions and interviews conducted 
several years later by Mer with former workshop participants, now 
grown and actively engaged in the conflict with Israel. 

AROUND THE PINK HOUSE (1999). Lebanese directors Joana 
Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige’s first feature exemplifies the frus- 
trations that many squatters faced at the end of the Lebanese Civil 
War, when the political economy shifted to accommodate newly 
mandated reconstruction projects. While developers stood to profit, 
squatters were lured into abandoning their homes for only modest 
compensation. The titular pink house is a large, heavily damaged 
mansion inhabited by two families. When its new owner announces 
his intention to remodel the house into a commercial center and 
gives the families 10 days to vacate the premises, the surrounding 
neighborhood divides between those who favor reconstruction and 
those who oppose it. Although technically awkward at times, the film 


effectively depicts postwar Beirut as a persisting battlefield, declara- 
tion of peace notwithstanding. 

ARTEEAST. This nonprofit organization was established in 2003 in 
New York City with the specific mission of presenting contemporary 
Middle Eastern art and artists to a wider audience, both internation- 
ally as well as in North America. ArteEast showcases the multicul- 
tural connections among the various Middle Eastern cultures and 
peoples while providing a forum for the Western world to sample the 
burgeoning diversity of Middle Eastern films, literature, music, and 
visual arts. 

ASLI, MOHAMED (1957- ). Bom in Casablanca, Asli studied in 
Milan, working as an assistant cameraman and assistant director, 
then a production executive. Returning to Morocco, he established, 
in 2003, a training facility in Ouzazarte within Kanzaman Studios 
in partnership with CineCitta and the Luce Institute. Moroccans had 
been demanding such a school for decades, and Asli’s was the first 
(he made a documentary about the school in 2005). 

Asli wrote, directed, and produced In Casablanca, Angels Don’t 
Fly (2004), Morocco’s first feature in Arabic and Berber. The film 
tackles the harsh lives of three waiters transplanted from their villages 
to Casablanca to work to try to support their families back home, a 
subject Asli treats with humor and respect. Rarely are Moroccan 
features shot in rural areas, and even more rarely are rural problems 
handled with the realism of Asli's film. The three men are rendered 
as complex human beings endowed with desires that poverty makes 
almost impossible to realize. The film was honored as the first Mo- 
roccan movie since 1978 to be selected for the Week of the Critic at 
the Cannes Film Festival. 

ATATURK, MUSTAFA KEMAL (1881-1938). The founder and the 
first president of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatiirk 
(literally, “father of the Turks”) was born in Salonika, at that time 
part of the Ottoman Empire. After a military education, he served 
in various ranks in the Ottoman army before becoming a leader of 
the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923). As the president of 


Turkey from 1923 until his death, he led the creation of a modern, 
secular nation-state through a series of rigorous reforms. 

The party he founded, the Republican People’s Party, represented 
the new republic’s six basic principles with an arrow on its logo. 
These connected and overlapping “Kemalist” principles were as fol- 
lows: Republicanism (the replacement of the monarchy with a con- 
stitutional republic): Populism (social mobilization of the people to 
realize reforms); Laicism (the French rendering of secularism, which 
introduces a separation of worldly and religious matters while giving 
control of religious affairs to the central state apparatuses); Reform- 
ism (the replacement of old, traditional, and Ottoman elements with 
those of modern, republican ones and the belief in continual reform 
as necessary for progress); Nationalism (the creation of a nation- 
state based upon an imagined ethnicity); and Statism (the creation of 
economic modernization and industrialization through state measures 
and institutions). As a blueprint for the Republic of Turkey, Kemal- 
ism included the adoption of the Western, positivist understanding of 
science and education. In time, however, some of these fundamentals 
lost their power, especially as contemporary Turkey has integrated 
into global capitalist markets. Current renderings of Kemalist ideol- 
ogy often draw upon the secular, democratic character of the nation- 
state with some nationalist undertones. 

Since Atatiirk’s death, the filming of his life has been a hotly con- 
tested issue in Turkish cinematic circles. In a 1989 book concerning 
the issue, Metin Erksan claimed that a film on Atatiirk could not be 
made in Turkey, because the concept of Atatiirk would inevitably be 
concretized, thus limiting the people’s freedom to imagine him. Erk- 
san instead called for “a big and real American filmmaker, such as 
Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, or George Lucas,” to direct such 
a film, on grounds that Hollywood filmmaking, so well-rehearsed 
in constructing myths and legends, was more suited to projecting an 
ideal image. 

Nonetheless, Turkish filmmakers did indeed make films about 
Atatiirk, although, for years, not a single feature focused primarily on 
him. That task was left to a 2008 feature-length docudrama, Mustafa 
(2008), directed by television journalist Can Diindar. Released on the 
70th anniversary of Ataturk’s death, and seen by 1.1 million people, 


Mustafa was criticized for its televisual language and its attention to 
the late leader’s private life. Other works featuring Atatiirk include 
the film and the television series Tired Warrior (Halit Refig, 1979), 
which narrates the Turkish War of Independence; the film Republic 
(Ziya Oztan, 1998) and the television series Metamorphosis (Feyzi 
Tuna, 1992), both of which focus on the foundation and early years 
of the Turkish Republic; the television documentary The Yellow 
Zeybek (Can Dundar, 1993), about Atatiirk; and the feature The Last 
Ottoman Yandim Ali (Mustafa §evki Dogan, 2007), a love story in- 
volving a late Ottoman bully who meets with Atatiirk. 

AVANTI POPOLO (1986). This independent Israeli feature was in- 
novative as well as controversial for its placement of Arab characters 
at the center of its drama and for having them speak their native 
Arabic. Directed by Rafi Bukai, Avanti Popolo outdoes its Young 
Israeli Cinema contemporaries with a fantastical, post -bourekas 
story of two Egyptian soldiers, played by Palestinian-Israeli actors, 
who become separated from their combat unit following the Six-Day 
War. As Khaled and Ghassan navigate their way home to Egypt, 
they chance upon a dead United Nations soldier in a jeep, which they 
steal and drive through the Sinai desert until it runs out of fuel. The 
theatrical, comedic performance of Khaled/Salim Dau — who would 
later feature in Cup Final (Eran Riklis, 1991), Curfew (Rashid 
Masharawi, 1993), and James’ Journey to Jerusalem (Ra’anan 
Alexandrowicz, 2003) — is ironized as he and his comrade are over- 
taken by a hapless Israeli patrol with whom they end up marching 
through the desert singing the titular Italian communist anthem. The 
two Egyptians eventually evade their captors but are killed acciden- 
tally by their own comrades, who mistake them for the enemy. The 
absurd quality of Avanti Popolo renders it a parable that reflexively 
allegorizes Israeli alienation and self-destructiveness while nostalgi- 
cally sentimentalizing class solidarity across the Arab-Israeli divide. 

AV§AR, HULYA (1963- ). Born in Edremit, Turkey, Avsar was 
briefly a professional swimmer before she won Miss Turkey of 
1982, from which she was later disqualified because her forbidden, 
divorced marital status was discovered. Avsar turned to cinema— be- 


coming a sex symbol throughout the 1980s, she played women 
spanning the moral spectrum in genre films such as Call Girls (Os- 
man Seden, 1985) and Guilty Youth (Orhan Elmas, 1985). She acted 
subsequently in post-Ye§il?am films such as Berlin in Berlin (Sinan 
£etin, 1993), as a Turkish migrant worker, and Mrs. Salkun’s Dia- 
monds (Tomris Giritlioglu, 1999), in which she plays a member of a 
non-Muslim ethnic minority. However, the dissolution of Ye§il?am 
compelled Avsar to seek additional work in the music and television 
industries. She has recorded several albums, and remains active as a 
television host and as a film, theater, and television actor. She also 
owns a fashion magazine, Hiilya. 

AYOUCH, NABIL (1969- ). Of Moroccan ancestry, Ayouch was 
raised in France, mostly in the Paris suburbs ( banlieues ) populated 
by immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East, but has been 
living primarily in Morocco since the mid-1990s. Ayouch studied 
theater in Paris but began training on film projects rather than at- 
tending a school. From 1992, he made commercials for Morocco and 
sub-Saharan Africa, and several shorts. In 1997, he directed his first 
feature, Mektoub, a detective “road movie” based on a true story that 
exposes the abuse of power, corruption, and social inequality within 
Moroccan society and the hashish trade. In this tale, a young woman 
attending a conference in Tangiers with her husband is kidnapped 
and raped by powerful men, but rebuilds her marital relationship 
during a trip to the south of Morocco. Immensely popular at the 
Moroccan box office and in France, the film officially represented 
Morocco at the 1999 Academy Awards. In that year, Ayouch set up 
his production company, Ali’N Production, in Casablanca, and for 
several years produced a television series, Lalla Fatima , while also 
establishing several venues through which Moroccan youth could 
produce short films. 

Ayouch’s second feature, Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets 
(2000), set on the streets and docksides of Casablanca, broke box 
office records. His One Minute Less of Sunshine (2002), a thriller 
in a style similar to Mektoub , was denied release in Morocco due 
to sexually explicit scenes featuring a transvestite protagonist. A 
subsequent “road movie,” Whatever Lola Wants (2006), continues 
this critical integration of gender and sexuality issues, this time on 

40 • BABA'I', brahim 

an international scale. Shot in Morocco but set largely in Cairo, it 
concerns an American woman who, having studied belly dancing 
with a gay Egyptian living in the United States, goes to Cairo in an 
attempt to reconcile with her estranged Egyptian boyfriend but finds 
herself searching for the famed but reclusive belly dancer, Ismahan, 

- B - 

BABAI, BRAHIM (1936- ). Babai graduated from the Institut des 
hautes etudes cinematographiques in 1963, worked for French and 
Tunisian television, then moved into filmmaking with shorts, docu- 
mentaries, and finally features. His films are examples of a neoreal- 
ist cinema of engagement, representing an attempt to reach a wide 
range of viewers and offer accessible solutions to social problems 
in Tunisia. His first feature. And Tomorrow? (1971-1972), adapted 
from Abdelkader Ben Cheikh’s novel, is one of the first Tunisian 
films to investigate issues of social concern during the 1960s, such 
as rural exodus, unemployment, and famine. The story follows three 
rural farmers who leave their drought-stricken village for the city. 
Babai’ s much later The Night of the Decade (1991), adapted from 
Mohamed Salah Jerbi’s novel, is a political crime intrigue depict- 
ing the Algerian unionization crisis that erupted in violence during 
the late 1970s. Its story is told through the lens of several students 
caught up in events. An Odyssey (2001-2004), inspired by Abdelaziz 
Belkhodja’s novel. The Ashes of Carthage, and considered Tunisia’s 
first film in the thriller genre, offers a critical perspective on trans- 
national trafficking in art and cultural objects. 

(2005). See DESERT TRILOGY. 

BAB EL-OUED CITY (1994). Set during the 1988 riots against aus- 
terity measures imposed by the Algerian government to offset col- 
lapsing oil prices and currency devaluations, Merzak Allouache’s 
Bab el-Oued City is the story of Boualem, a young baker so tortured 
by incessant religious harangues from the loudspeakers of a nearby 


mosque that he tears one down from the roof of the bakery. Depicted 
through extended flashback and framed by letters written to him by his 
sympathetic lover, Yamina, once he has left the country, Boualem’s 
act spurs a variety of retributions, especially by an Islamist militia 
that considers it blasphemous. The film’s layered plot and visual 
structure, however, help construct a sense of fear and anxiety that 
allegorizes the militants— whose leader is Yamina’s brother— to a 
larger, shadowy enterprise of national consolidation and control, and 
that finally compels the socialistically minded Boualem to escape to 
France. French is spoken at points throughout the film by characters 
associated with the militia and former French colons. The film was 
shot in secret during the civil strife that occurred in the wake of the 
1988 riots. 

BACCAR, SELMA (1945- ). Born in Tunis, Baccar studied cinema- 
tography in Paris, and became the first Tunisian woman to direct 
a narrative feature film in that country: Fatma 75 (1976) explores 
contradictions between traditional and modern aspects of Tunisian 
society and culture, highlighting celebrated women and other emi- 
nent figures of the Berber independence movement. Fler second di- 
rectorial feature. Dance of Fire (1994), dedicated to the memory of 
a Jewish-Tunisian singer of the 1920s, continues Baccar’ s interest in 
the representation of Tunisian women. It introduces the singer at the 
peak of her popularity and recounts her activities during that period, 
from her celebrated salon in Tunis through her travels to Europe to 
her return and untimely death — a crime of passion— in 1927. Her 
third feature. Flower of Forgetfulness, was released in 2005. Baccar 
has also made documentaries and is the first female producer in 

BACHIR-CHOUIKH, YAMINA (1954- ). Algerian Yamina Bachir 
Chouikh worked at the Office national pour le commerce et 
l’industrie cinematographiques, serving as a scriptwriter for Omar 
Gatlato (Merzak Allouache, 1976) and Sand Wind (Mohamed 
Lakhdar-Hamina, 1982). She has worked as an editor and screen- 
writer on several additional Algerian films, including The Citadel 
(1988) and The Ark of the Desert (1997), both directed by her hus- 
band, Mohamed Chouikh. Her first directorial feature, Rachida 


(2002), concerns a young teacher shot by terrorists when she refuses 
to place a bomb in her school. Miraculously, she survives, but, un- 
safe in Algiers, moves with her mother to a house in the countryside, 
where she attempts to build a new life, again as a teacher, only to 
experience Islamist violence there, too. Despite this, she refuses to 
bow to, or reciprocate, the violence, and the film ends as, the day 
after a murderous attack on the village, she reenters her wrecked 
schoolroom, accompanied by some of her pupils. Rachida was made 
during a period in which Algerian filmmaking had almost ceased in 
the face of the civil conflict; its psychological insight and portrayal of 
female solidarity and oppression make it one of the most significant 
Algerian films of the century to date. It is also the first 35mm feature 
film directed by a woman ever to have been shot in Algeria. 

BADIE, MUSTAPHA (1928-2001). A filmmaker and actor originally 
named Arezki Berkouk, Mustapha Badie worked in the Arab munici- 
pal theater group of Algiers and received training at the Radiodiffu- 
sion Television Fran§aise during the colonial era, then found work at 
Emissions en langues Arabe et Kabyle with Radio-Alger. His activi- 
ties in support of Algerian liberation led to his arrest and imprison- 
ment from 1957 until Independence. Upon his release, he resumed 
his career under the name Mustapha Badie. His films, usually based 
upon historical events, include Our Mothers (1963) and The Night Is 
Afraid of the Sun (1966), an epic feature in the tradition of Chronicle 
of the Years of Embers (Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, 1975), de- 
picting various aspects of Algerian society and culture between 1952 
and 1962 in four tableaux (The Land Is Thirsty, The Roads to Prison, 
History of Saliha, and History of Fatma). 

BADRAKHAN, AHMED (1909-1969). At a time when Egypt had no 
film industry to speak of, Badrakhan wrote articles about cinema for 
the periodicals Al-Sabah and Magalaty, before moving to France in 
1931 to study film under the patronage of Talaat Harb. He returned 
in 1934, to become the first Egyptian director of Harb’s Studio 
Misr. He was in many respects a director of “firsts”; he wrote the 
screenplay for the first film produced by Studio Misr, entitled Wedad 
(1936)— likewise the first film to star Umm Kulthum. (Badrakhan 
also partially directed this film, but following a dispute, Fritz Kramp 


took over.) Quickly, however, he became known as the director of 
Umm Kulthum’s films, all musicals: Song of Hope (1937), Dinars 
(1940), Aida (1942), and Fatma (1947). He was also the first to film 
singers Farid al-Atrache and Asmahan (in Triumph of Youth [1940]) 
and actress Mariam Fakhr Eddin (Night of Love [1951]). He also 
directed two important biopics: Mustafa Kamel (1952) and Sayed 
Darwish (1966). Mustafa Kamel , which tells the life story of the 
young nationalist who led the 1919 revolt, is credited as the first film 
to depict the national struggle for independence against the British 
and was denied screening until after the Free Officers coup of 1952. 
With Sayed Darwish, Badrakhan sets the story of the eponymous 
composer against the backdrop of anti-British demonstrations, in 
which the young Darwish actively participates, rebelling against his 
religious schooling in pursuit of his talent, and falling in love with a 
dancer (Hind Rustom). 

Badrakhan’s With God on Our Side (completed in 1953 but re- 
leased in 1955 due to problems with the censors) depicts the events 
leading up to the Free Officer’s coup and was filmed shortly follow- 
ing that event. It tells the story of a young officer, Ahmed (Emad 
Hamdi), who loses an arm because of defective weapons used by 
Egypt in the 1948 war in Palestine. The film condemns those who 
were responsible and who collaborated with the British and the ruling 
monarchy, including Ahmed’s own uncle, Abdel Aziz Pasha (Mah- 
moud El-Miligi). Both Badrakhan’s historical/nationalistic films and 
his romantic -musical melodramas were filled with sentiment, the 
protagonists often sacrificing for a greater good or for the sake of 
their loved ones. His son, Ali Badrakhan, has also become an im- 
portant director in Egypt. 

BADRAKHAN, ALI (1946- ). Son of Ahmed Badrakhan, Ali 

Badrakhan began his career as an assistant director with his father 
and, later, to Fatin Abdel-Wahab, Youssef Chahine, and Ah mad 
Diauddin. Void of his father’s romanticism, his own films were 
deeply political, often scathing in their criticism of figures of power 
and corruption. With Karnak (1975), Badrakhan levels his criti- 
cism against Nasserism, while in Shafika and Metwally (1978), he 
depicts the construction of the Suez Canal and those who betrayed 
Egypt during the colonial era. In People on the Top (1981), based 


on a story by Naguib Mahfouz, Nur El-Sherif plays a petty thief 
who is released from jail to become a rich businessman. The film 
portrays the new social class that emerged as a result of Anwar 
Sadat’s opening of the country to Western capitalist policies (the 
lnfitah). Personal greed and corruption at the expense of the greater 
good is likewise emphasized in Hunger (1986), set in the unspecified 
19th-century past, but clearly commenting on present-day social ills. 
Based on a story. The Harafish, by Naguib Mahfouz, the film tells 
the story of a donkey cart transporter, Farag El-Gibali (Mahmoud 
Abdel-Aziz), who stands up to local bullies and is consequently 
granted fetewwa status (power and authority to protect and manage 
local affairs). As he is seduced into a hedonistic relationship with a 
rich woman, Malak (Yousra), however, he abandons his family and 
grows increasingly selfish, becoming so negligent of the people’s 
needs and interests that they resort to looting his stash of supplies and 
ousting him. Badrakhan explored the specific social circumstances 
of his characters. He was the last director to work with star Souad 
Hosni, in The Shepherd and the Women (1991), based on an Italian 
play entitled Crime on Goat Island , and which also starred Yousra 
and Ahmad Zaki. Badrakhan’s latest film features Nadia al-Gindi 
and Ilham Shahin in an adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, 
titled simply Desire (2002). 

BAGHDADI, MAROUN (1951-1994). Perhaps the most prominent 
filmmaker of the Lebanese Civil War era, Baghdadi had the versa- 
tility to make documentary films politically entrenched within the 
conflict, while also directing narrative films capable of transcending 
national borders. After studying political science at the Sorbonne in 
Paris, he became involved with a leftist political coalition, the Leba- 
nese National Movement (LMN). Baghdadi directed several short 
documentaries for the LMN, including a portrait of the coalition’s 
leader, Druze patriarch Kamal Jumblatt. He also directed several 
documentaries and fictional films about Lebanon for European tele- 
vision. His films remain closely concerned with the political violence 
and social limitations facing the country. Beirut, Oh Beirut (1975), 
featuring Egyptian actor Izzat el Alaili, offers a prophetic vision 
of Lebanon’s troubled future by following four central characters 
as they confront fantasies about its cosmopolitan capital city. Little 


Wars (1982) revisits the beginning of the civil war in a tale about the 
role played by traditionalism and family honor in pulling into war 
a generation that did not want it, while also denaturalizing the sen- 
sationalism of war by depicting the role played by journalists, both 
Western and Lebanese, in creating this popular perspective. 

Capable of straddling Arab and European sensibilities, Bagh- 
dadi’s films appealed consistently to audiences in Europe, while 
relying on French funding. During the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, 
he participated in Wim Wenders’ experimental film. Room 666 
(1982), in which a series of filmmakers, including Steven Spielberg 
and Jean-Luc Godard, are asked whether they believe cinema is 
a dying language. One of two non-Western filmmakers featured, 
Baghdadi replies that filmmaking is a vicious cycle requiring the 
director to surrender life to the screen. The implied ambivalent 
relationship with representational power is a recurrent trope within 
Baghdadi’s films — and Lebanese cinema generally. Similarly, Out 
of Life (1990), which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, provides a 
gripping story about the abduction of a French photojournalist dur- 
ing the civil war, in which the photojournalist’s bravado serves as 
a reflexive critique. Baghdadi died prematurely from an accidental 
fall at his home in Beirut. 

BAKRI, MOHAMMED (1953- ). Born in Bina, a village in the 
Galilee, Bakri studied acting and literature at Tel Aviv University. 
He began his career as a theatrical performer in 1976, in Israel and 
the West Bank, followed by film acting in 1983, appearing in produc- 
tions by renowned Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers Amos Gitai 
and Michel Khleifi. He eventually gained lead roles in Israeli, Pal- 
estinian, and European films, including Beyond the Walls (Uri Bara- 
bash, 1984), Esther (Gitai, 1986), Cup Final (Eran Riklis, 1991), 
Haifa (Rashid Masharawi, 1996), Yom, Yom (Gitai, 1998), Private 
(Saverio Constanzo, Italy, 2004), and Laila’s Birthday (Masharawi, 
2008). Bakri is one of few Palestinian artists with a successful career 
in both Israeli-Hebrew and Palestinian-Arabic theater and cinema, 
often dealing with aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and 
internal Palestinian struggles. He has also directed two documenta- 
ries: 1948 (1998), a Palestinian interpretation of the Nakha ; and the 
more controversial Jenin, Jenin (2002), initially banned in Israel and 


based on Palestinian residents’ interpretations of violent clashes with 
the Israel Defense Forces in Jenin during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. 

BANDIT, THE (1996). This extremely popular film (2.5 million spec- 
tators) directed by Yavuz Turgul is considered the first financially 
successful post-Ye^il^am production, which, as such, rendered vi- 
able the distribution of contemporary Turkish cinema internation- 
ally. The Bandit thus heralded the rejuvenation of Turkish cinema, 
the “new cinema of Turkey,” following years of unproductiveness 
after the demise of Yegikjam— to which the film stands nonetheless 
as a critical homage. Its story concerns a thief who, upon release from 
a 35-year prison term, searches Istanbul for his former lover. In the 
course of his quest, he observes the immense social transformation 
that has occurred in Turkey since his internment and comes to the 
conclusion that his former relationship could never be revived under 
present conditions. As a result, by film’s end, he commits suicide. 

BANI-ETEMAD, RAKSHAN (1954- ). Born in Tehran, Bani-Etemad 
is often described as Iran’s leading female director. She graduated 
with a degree in film direction from the University of Tehran and 
started her career making documentaries for the Islamic Republic 
of Iran Broadcasting. Bani-Etemad’ s feature film credits include Off 
Limits (1986), Nargess (1992), The Blue Veiled (1995), The May 
Lady (1998), Baran and the Native (1999), Under the City’s Skin 
(2001), Our Times (2002), Gilaneh (2005), and Main Line (2006). 
She has focused on issues faced by the impoverished and the under- 
privileged classes, even the criminal element, in contemporary Iran, 
with female characters usually depicted as resistors and survivors of 
hostile social situations. 

In Nargess , the first film in Bani-Etemad’s City Trilogy, an older 
woman loses her much younger lover to the younger Nargess. Bani- 
Etemad turns this unusual love triangle (two of the characters are 
professional thieves, and Nargess is abjectly poor) not only into an 
exploration of two women victimized by a selfish and immature man, 
but also into a critical appraisal of the strictly codified and patriarchal 
postrevolutionary Iranian society, where to move from the criminal 
class to the impoverished but respectable working class involves not 
only deception but incest. 


The City Trilogy continues with the self-reflexive The May Lady, 
an exploration of patriarchy’s hold on women’s lives, through the 
story of Forough Kia, a middle-aged single mother and filmmaker 
who must brave her teenage son’s anger and hostility in order to date 
and experience love again. Under the City’s Skin traces the danger- 
ous effects of class division, poverty, and political violence on the 
working-class urban poor in Tehran through the story of Toba, who 
tries to hold together her family inside a violent and unjust social 
system. In Gilaneh, Bani-Etemad puts a different spin on the Sacred 
Defense Cinema genre, wherein the titular character survives the 
Iran-Iraq War badly damaged, only to witness emotionlessly the 
Anglo-American invasion of Baghdad. By her stark portraits of the 
suffering of the urban poor, Bani-Etemad challenges social nostalgia 
for the Iran-Iraq War, while exposing the waste of human life in this 
later invasion. See also GENDER AND SEXUALITY. 

BARAKAT, HENRI (1912-1997). An Egyptian filmmaker who 
studied cinema in France, Barakat returned to Egypt following the 
outbreak of World War II to direct an adaptation of Anton Chekov’s 
play, The Vagabond (1942). Most active during the 1950s and 1960s, 
he is recognized as the master of Egyptian romance and melodrama. 
Barakat films usually depict a suffering female who experiences 
emotional turmoil before meeting with a climactic and tragic fate. 
Barakat filmed Faten Hamama in some of her most memorable 
roles, most notably as Amna in The Nightingale’s Prayer (aka Call 
of the Curlew) (1959) and as the raped peasant woman, forced to 
conceal her pregnancy and accidentally suffocating her newborn, in 
The Sin (1965). In both these films, Barakat portrays the social injus- 
tices and hardships of rural Egypt. In A Man in Our House (1961), 
Barakat sets his thwarted romance against the backdrop of Egypt’s 
struggle for independence, as a young terrorist-political assassin 
(Omar Sharif) takes refuge in a family house, falls in love with the 
youngest daughter (Zahret El-Ola), and tests the family’s loyalties to 
their nation. 

In The Open Door { 1963), Barakat broaches another overtly politi- 
cal subject, women’s roles and the Suez crisis, as Layla (Hamama), 
a university graduate and activist, returns home to confront 

48 • BARAN 

romantic disappointment and cynicism (associated with the tyranny 
of the old regime) while struggling for national pride and political 
accomplishment. Barakat gave two other important Egyptian stars 
their first roles: Souad Hosni (in Hassan and Naima [1959]) and 
Lebanese singer Sabah (in One for the Heart [1945]). His films are 
also known for their extravagant musical scores and dramatic inter- 
ludes, including Love of My Life (1947) and the musical comedy The 
Genie Lady (1950), both starring Lebanese singer Farid al- Attache 
and co-starring Sarnia Gamal; and The Immortal Song (1952), again 
starring al- Attache alongside Hamama. In Barakat’ s final feature, 
The Night of Fatma’s Arrest (1984), the story is told in flashback, 
with Fatma (Hamama) as a woman committed to a mental hospital 
by her brother in an attempt to prevent her from exposing his cor- 

BARAN (2001). Majid Majidi’s film is a melodrama of self-sacrifice 
and the suffering of Afghan refugees in Iran. Lateef works as cook 
and grocery-buyer for the workers at a construction site, until he 
is displaced from his position of relative comfort by the arrival of 
Rahmat, who comes to replace his father as a money-earner after the 
latter’s injury in an accident at the site. At first fiercely resentful, La- 
teef’ s feelings quickly change to love when he realizes that Rahmat is 
in fact a girl, Baran. First saving her from arrest, he later sacrifices his 
own savings and identity documents — thus metaphorically becoming 
an “Afghan” himself— for her impoverished family’s well-being. 
The film ends with their setting out to return to Afghanistan: Lateef 
left only with the fading memory of a fleeting glimpse of Baran’ s 
face, and the imprint of her foot in the mud quickly filling with rain 
(“ baran ” in Persian). Baran’’ s focus on displacement, transnational 
labor, and a multiethnic Iran is emphasized by Lateef’ s own Turkish 

Stylistically, the film is marked by a preponderance of moving 
camera and high-angle shots looking down on the construction site 
and environs. Despite the scenes of hard work, the focus on com- 
munal activities ensures that, like the refugee camp in which Baran 
lives, the workplace is somewhat romanticized, while slow-motion 
and mood music help emphasize Lateef’ s heroism. Released soon 
after the events of 11 September 2001, Baran was poorly promoted 


in the United States and did not meet with the success of Majidi’s 
two earlier films. Children of Heaven (1997) and Color of Paradise 

BASHU, THE LITTLE STRANGER (1986). Bahrain Beyzai’s 

Bashu, the Little Stranger is a key Iranian film of the early postrev- 
olutionary period. It begins, dramatically, with the fiery deaths of the 
protagonist’s family in the war- torn desert landscape of Khuzestan, 
in southern Iran near the Iraqi border. The boy, Bashu, flees the 
area by stowing away in a truck to the lush Caspian Sea region in 
the Iranian north. The extreme long-shots and telephoto lenses used 
to convey this journey are strikingly contrasted by the entry of Nai’i 
(Susan Taslimi), who, in a startling and much-discussed close-up, 
rises into the frame from the rice fields, her eyes apparently fixed on 
the spectator. Nai’i, whose husband is away either at war or doing 
industrial work in a distant town, adopts Bashu— whose dark skin 
and Arabic language mark his difference— and protects him from 
suspicious villagers. The two communicate by action and gesture 
and eventually a formal Persian that provides a lingua franca not 
native to either of them. Nonlinguistic communication remains 
privileged, however, and Beyzai incorporates elements from Eastern 
theatrical tradition to tell a broadly humanist anti-war story in which 
Bashu’s dead mother haunts his new world and facilitates Nai’i’s 
adoption of him. Although these war references have generally been 
blamed for Bashu' s having remained unscreened in Iran for three 
years and finally shown only in 1989, after the end of the war with 
Iraq, its strong, somewhat confrontational portrayal of Nai’i and its 
implicit renegotiation of Iranian identity may have equally troubled 
the censors. 

BAT-ADAM, MICHAL (19??- ). One of the Israeli film industry’s 
only female directors, Michal Bat-Adam is also a trained actor who 
has performed in films of the Young Israeli Cinema, including 
The House on Chelouche Street (1973) and Daughters, Daughters 
(1973), both directed by her husband, Moshe Mizrahi; Atalia (Akiva 
Tevet, 1984); and Moments (1979), The Lover (1985), and The 
Deserter’s Wife (1992), which she also directed. Bat- Adam’s star 
intertext promotes diplomatic confrontation of the social and cultural 


contradictions marring Ashkenazi-Mizrahi relations in Israel, imply- 
ing through the self-consciously ambiguous performance of stereo- 
typical feminine behavior that such contradictions can be overcome 
aesthetically. See also WOMEN. 

BATTLE OF ALGIERS, THE (1966). Directed by Italian socialist and 
activist Gillo Pontecorvo (1919-2006) and coproduced by the only 
independent production company in postindependence Algeria, Cas- 
bah Films, headed by Yacef Saadi, the one-time Front de Liberation 
Nationale (FLN) military commander in Algiers, who plays himself 
in the film. The Battle of Algiers is one of history’s most powerful 
cinematic studies of colonial occupation and its resistance. Pontecor- 
vo’ s documentary- style reenactment of a key series of episodes 
in Algeria’s struggle for independence from France recreates the 
Algerian uprising against the occupying French during the Battle of 
Algiers of 1954-1957. The film opens in 1957, as Colonel Mathieu, 
a cold-blooded representative of the French military, has just forced 
a confession revealing the location of Ali Fa Pointe, an FFN member 
and a symbol of Algerian resistance and identity. Paratroopers locate 
Fa Pointe and other resistance fighters, including a young woman 
and 13-year-old boy, hiding inside the Casbah. Their ultimatum: Sur- 
render or be blown up. As Fa Pointe and his comrades consider their 
options, the film flashes back to 1954, when the FLN launched major 
military operations in Algiers, and recreates key stages in the upris- 
ing and in La Pointe’s political development. Meanwhile, Mathieu 
places the Casbah under martial law with military checkpoints, raids, 
and mass arrests. The FLN reacts with assassinations, and Mathieu 
unleashes a program of systematic torture and other forms of collec- 
tive punishment. 

By 1957, the rebellion weakens in the face of intensifying French 
military efforts and the capture of FLN leaders. However, the film 
ends with the outbreak of mass demonstrations and a renewed 
Algerian uprising that eventually forced France to cede power to 
the FLN. Pontecorvo’ s development of a quasi-documentary form 
of realism, with newsreel-style narration and captions, 16mm 
handheld news cameras, and the use of FLN and official French 
military proclamations, were groundbreaking. An accomplished 
composer and musician, Pontecorvo provided his film with a 


complex soundtrack, highlighted by Ennio Morricone’s alternately 
overwhelming and restrained score. While The Battle of Algiers 
was immediately successful in Algeria, Italy, and the United States, 
it was banned in France and Great Britain until 1971. It was also 
one of a few anticolonial films to be banned under the Shah in 
Iran, but was exhibited after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It 
has remained pertinent in more recent times, and was supposedly 
screened for American military leaders at the Pentagon in the early 
stages of the Iraq War. 

BAYOUMI, MOHAMED (1894-1963). Born in Tata, Egypt, Bay- 
oumi graduated from military school in Cairo in 1915, and served in 
the Sudan and Palestine. Eager to be involved with the cinema, he 
moved briefly to Berlin in the early 1920s, where he studied film and 
worked as a minor actor in the German film industry, then in one of its 
most creative periods. Returning to Egypt, Bayoumi was cinematog- 
rapher on Italian Victor Rosito’s In the Land of Tutankhamen (1923), 
and he directed a short film version of a play, The Clerk (1923). He 
founded Amon Films in Cairo, where he oversaw the production of a 
series of newsreels and patriotic, anti-British shorts, as well as some 
short narratives, such as Barsum Looking for a Job (1923). In 1924, 
Bayoumi filmed the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb. He apparently 
completed a narrative feature. The Victim, as cinematographer and 
director in 1928, but it was not released, meaning that his only di- 
rectorial feature was Fiance Number 13 (1933), shortly after which 
he abandoned film production. Bayoumi founded a cinematographic 
training institute, Egypt’s first, in Alexandria in 1932. 

BEHI, RIDHA (1947- ). Born in the Muslim holy city of Kairouan in 
Tunisia, Behi studied sociology and ethnography at Nanterre, then 
began his filmmaking career with Hyenas’ Sun (1977), a scathing 
indictment of Western transnationalism in which the economic and 
political structure of an entire seaside Berber village is irrevocably 
transformed when a European tourist resort is built nearby. Behi’s 
subsequent The Angels (1984), however, was a melodrama in the 
Egyptian style, as was his Bitter Champagne (1988), starring Julie 
Christie and Ben Gazzara, concerning a young man who unwittingly 
has an affair with his father’s mistress. Despite their generic styles 

52 • BEHl, RIDHA 

and Western stars, these films were subject to censorship for their 
perceived political undertones. 

Behi again selected an international cast for Swallows Never Die 
in Jerusalem (1994), a melodramatic homage to the Palestinian 
struggle set on the eve of the Oslo Accords. Richard, a French tele- 
vision journalist, travels to Israel to cover the historic negotiations. 
There he meets a Palestinian taxi driver, Hammoudi/“Local Radio” 
(i Curfew's Salim Dau), who he learns has been searching for his 
long-lost grandmother, and he decides to arrange a television inter- 
view between his own Jewish girlfriend Esther’s father, Moshe (Ben 
Gazzara), a Holocaust survivor, and Hammoudi’s father, a Gazan 
refugee. Hammoudi’s brother, Riadh, however, formerly an exile in 
Jordan, has joined an Islamist organization that violently protests 
the Oslo Accords, thus undermining Richard’s mediating efforts. 
His idealism is strikingly figured in a noteworthy panning shot of 
Jerusalem that enframes the major holy sites of all three religions 
represented by the film’s characters, which prefigures a similar shot 
in a later Palestinian film, Looking Awry / Hawal (Sobhi al-Zobaidi, 
2005). Swallows has been criticized for its displacement of excessive 
blame on Palestinian militants, especially those adherent to Islam, for 
the failures of Oslo. 

Behi’s provocative, humanist critiques of conflict and political 
idealism continued with The Magic Box (2002), which examines 
the complex life of Raouf, a resident of Tunis whose French wife, 
burdened with ennui, has become an alcoholic. To escape ensuing 
domestic problems, he decides to write a screenplay about his child- 
hood in Kairouan. The screenplay recounts his early relationship 
with his uncle, a traveling film projectionist who owns a cinema 
caravan and whom Raouf accompanies throughout the rural country- 
side as respite from the harsh treatment he receives from his strict, 
religious father. Recalling Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tomatore, 
Italy, 1990), with which the film has been compared, Raouf’s uncle 
introduces him to the wonders of cinema, a gift that comes full circle 
in the present context of the screenplay. Behi’s latest work to date, 
Citizen Brando (2008), which had to be revised following Mail on 
Brando’s death, narrates a young man’s attempt to befriend the leg- 
endary, iconoclastic American actor. 


BEIRUT THE ENCOUNTER (1981). Shot on location during the 
Lebanese Civil War, Borhane Alaouie’s film depicts a chance 
meeting between two young friends separated by the war. Their 
encounter is emblematic of the displacement and uncertainty faced 
when navigating intersectarian relationships and the obstacles of 
everyday political violence. Zeina and Haidar agree to meet at the 
airport to exchange audio letters before Zeina leaves Lebanon for 
America, where she plans to pursue her studies. Rather than overt 
violence, the backdrop of war shows a society paralyzed by the 
material signs of disjuncture (sporadic electricity, water, and phone 
connections, as well as roadblocks and traffic jams); time is hostage, 
no one knows how long it will take to cross the city or for the war to 
end. At film’s end, Zeina is stuck in traffic on the way to the airport, 
and Haidar gives up and leaves. A powerful symbol of departure and 
disconnection, the airport serves as a site of impossible good-byes. 

BELLY DANCING. Known in Arabic as raqs sharqi and in Turkish 
as giftetelli or Oryantal dansi (“dance of the East”), belly dancing is 
a dance form indigenous to the Middle East. It was originally a com- 
munal folk dance (raqs biladi ) held at social occasions not involving 
performance before an audience. These included meetings between 
women, often under gender-segregated conditions, and, reputedly, 
birth rituals, as a means of strengthening abdominal muscles. 

With the onset of European colonialism and the growth of an 
entertainment industry, belly dancing was co-opted by the West in 
orientalist fashion, as an exotic, sexually alluring performance by 
women (and sometimes men) for men. Its appropriation into cinema 
was facilitated by Sol Bloom, an American promoter of Egyptian 
culture (where belly dancing is rooted most strongly) at the 1893 Chi- 
cago World’s Fair. Bloom coined the English term “belly dancing,” 
and by the 1920s, the form had achieved scandalous renown across 
the United States as “hoochy-koochy.” A vaudevillian precursor to 
burlesque, belly dancing was also incorporated into the avant-garde 
cinematic dance experiments of Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan. 
Meanwhile in the Middle East, belly dancing had become a tourist at- 
traction at Cairene and Lebanese nightclubs, promoted largely by the 


mode’s modem progenitor, Lebanese-Syrian Badia Musabni, who 
would help launch the careers of dancers Tahiyya Carioca, Samia 
Gamal, Naima Akef, and others who became Egyptian movie stars 
in musicals featuring a variety of belly dancing numbers. Perhaps 
the most renowned contemporary belly dancers in the region are Fifi 
Abdo and Dina, both Egyptian. 

Since the events of 1 1 September 200 1 , belly dancing has under- 
gone a popular revival among American women seeking intercultural 
understanding in the context of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
During this period, the revisionist belly dancing film Satin Rouge 
(Raja Amari, 2002) represented Tunisian women reappropriating 
the form for the sake of female solidarity and bonding, thus standing 
implicitly to critique the neo-orientalism of concomitant Western 
interest. A similar revision is offered in Viva Algeria (Nadir Mok- 
neche, 2004). In The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche, 
2007), belly dancing becomes a mode of resistance to the economic 
marginalization and disenfranchisement of the beur community in 
postcolonial France. 

Belly dancing has also been used as what Edward Said would 
call a self-orientalizing practice, within countless Middle Eastern 
cinemas, especially those of Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel. 
That practice is critiqued in Waiting (Rashid Masharawi, 2005), 
which foregrounds the function of belly dancing as a tourist attraction 
for exilic Palestinians, and Whatever Lola Wants (Nabil Ayouch, 
2006), which supplies a transnational angle on tourism. 

BELOUFA, FAROUK (1947- ). Beloufa, a French resident Algerian 
filmmaker, attended the Institut national du cinema d’ Alger in 1964 
and studied at the Institut des hautes etudes cinematographiques in 
1966, before directing a documentary. The War of Liberation (1973). 
He was an assistant to Youssef Chahine on the Algerian-Egyptian 
co-production, The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976), then directed 
his first and only feature thus far, Nahla (1979), set during the 1975 
war in Lebanon. Nahla chronicles the relationships of a young Al- 
gerian journalist, who works at a pro-Palestinian newspaper, with 
three women— a faltering singer (the titular Nahla), a journalist, 
and an activist— who share their stories with him across a series of 
elliptical scenes. The film’s narrative-compositional structure and a 


musical score by Fairuz’s son, Ziad Rahbani, reflect the confusions 
and renewed perspectives brought about during the Lebanese Civil 
War. Hailed by critics, the film was subject to a failed censorship 
attempt by Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina and played widely, if not 
always to popular acclaim, throughout Algeria. 

( 1943 - ). Born in Tunis, Ben Amar graduated in 1964 from the Insti- 
tut des hautes etudes cinematographiques in Paris. He directed three 
significant features during the 1970s: Such a Simple Story (1970), Se- 
jnane (1974), and Aziza (1979/80), all of which were granted awards 
at the Carthage Film Festival. Such a Simple Story examines the 
contradictions of social integration in Tunisia through a film-within- 
a-film plot structure. Chamseddine, a young filmmaker, is document- 
ing Tunisian migrant workers returning from Europe, in particular 
Hamed, who recounts the difficulty he faces reinserting himself into 
rural life with a foreign wife whose Western views are not accepted. 
Chamseddine’ s fiancee from France also has difficulties adapting 
and is not accepted by his family. Sejnane is a key anticolonial film 
offering a portrait of the events surrounding Tunisian independence. 
Set in 1952 Tunis, it tells the story of Kemal, who works in a print- 
ing company, and whose father is assassinated by a secret colonial 
organization. Kemal’s love interest, the daughter of the company’s 
owner, is to be mamed by arrangement to another man, leading 
Kemal to begin asking questions about Tunisia’s political situation 
and to become involved with union activists. He is killed when they 
are all shot down— as his love is being married off. Aziza shifts the 
focus of change and integration to the story of a young woman who 
must adapt when her rural family moves into modern housing in a 
working-class urban suburb. Among other things, the move disrupts 
traditional gender roles; as the men in her family deal with dimin- 
ished patriarchal authority, Aziza finds work in a local textile factory 
and achieves financial independence. 

For the next 20 years, Ben Amar specialized in documentaries 
and commercials, and, through his production company, Fatif 
Productions, produced Wanderers in the Desert (aka The Drifters ) 
(Nacir Khemir, 1984). Then, in 2002, he directed The Song of the 
Noria (aka Melody of the Waterwheel), perhaps the first Tunisian 


example of the road movie genre. Zeineb, in her thirties, is finally 
granted a legal divorce but flees in fear of her jealous husband on 
the advice of her attorney. She meets an old flame, Mohamed, an 
archaeologist whose father, it is gradually revealed, has committed 
suicide following the expropriation of his land. Mohamed is trying to 
locate a film crew, one of whose members owes him money, and to 
save enough to study in France. He and Zeinab travel together across 
the desert in search of the film crew that might provide their desired 
escape, but never locate it, instead becoming entangled with a con 
man and a group of thugs sent by Zeinab’s husband. 

BEN BARKA, SOUHEIL (1942- ). Ben Barka is known for his mix 
of realism in historical epics, as well as for championing African 
issues of social justice in films that at once exemplify and stand to 
critique salient aspects of African transnational cinema. His work 
ranges from films critiquing modem social malaise to blockbuster 
historical epics interrogating the power struggles in Pharaonic Egypt 
and Andalusian Spain-Morocco-Turkey, and against colonialism 
in Morocco. Born in Timbuktu, Mali, Ben Barka earned a degree 
in sociology from Rome University after graduating in filmmaking 
from Rome’s Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. He worked for 
five years in Italy as assistant to, among others. Pier Paolo Pasolini. 
Upon coming to Morocco, he established Euro-Maghreb Films and 
later built a series of cinema complexes, Le Dawliz, in several Mo- 
roccan cities. 

As a filmmaker and producer, he made a number of documentary 
shorts and features before becoming director of the Centre cine- 
matographique Marocain from 1986 to 2003. Ben Barka’s first 
feature, 1001 Hands (1972), made partly with European funding, 
attacked the impact of tourism on the Moroccan underclass and the 
discrepancy between Morocco’s powerful merchants and workers 
exploited for their labor. Another feature. The Oil War Will Not 
Happen (1974), concerning exploited oil workers in an anonymous 
African country, was banned in Morocco just after it received its ex- 
hibition permit, even though the government had facilitated certain 
sequences, allowing filming at a state -run petroleum complex and 
giving permission for the army to appear in a struggle against oil 
workers. According to Ben Barka, the film was banned because it 


criticized Saudi Arabia. Amok (1982)— an antiapartheid drama funded 
by Senegal, Guinea, and Morocco, and adapted from Alan Paton’s 
novel Cry, the Beloved Country (1948)— was the first film concerning 
South African apartheid shot entirely in sub-Saharan Africa. 

BENANI, HAMID (aka HAMID BENNANI) (1940[1942?]- ). 

A film school graduate from the Institut des hautes etudes cine- 
matographiques in Paris, Moroccan-bom Benani made short films 
for Moroccan television and wrote for the review. Cinema 3, Mo- 
rocco’s only cinema studies publication. Benani’s debut film, Traces 
(1970), treats the social and psychological problems of a young boy, 
adopted by an authoritarian father, who yearns for liberty and au- 
tonomy. The film was hailed by critics and historians as an “auteur” 
vehicle rich in signs and visual symbols, yet its semiological density 
made it unpopular with mainstream filmgoers. Twenty-five years 
later, Benani’s second feature, an adaptation of Tahar Ben Jelloun’s 
novel A Prayer for the Absent (1995), is an equally semiotically rich 
exploration of a young man’s search for self-identity and religious 

BENGUIGUI, YAMINA (1957- ). Bom in France to Algerian par- 
ents, Benguigui is the director of penetrating films on women’s 
issues related to the North African immigrant, or beur, community 
in France, including the documentaries Women of Islam (1994), Im- 
migrant Memories: The North African Inheritance (1997) (based on 
her book of the same name), and The Perfumed Garden (2000), as 
well as many other documentaries and shorts, some made-for-televi- 
sion. Inch Allah Dimanche (2001), her first fictional feature (based 
on her novel of the same name), tells the story of Zouina, who arrives 
in France from rural Algeria following the 1974 family reunion law 
that allows Algerian women to join husbands working in France. 
Zouina’ s husband, Ahmed, is overprotective of Zouina and grants her 
only limited liberties. She struggles with his physical abuse and her 
mother-in-law’s verbal harassment, and is helped by French friends 
to extricate herself from the situation through acclimation to French 
life and culture. As a result, Zouina becomes more confident, by 
film’s end achieving a modicum of self-determination beyond the 
domestic sphere. Benguigui has continued to make documentaries. In 


2008, she began shooting her second feature. Heaven Is Full!, which 
addresses the difficulties involved in organizing a Muslim burial in 

BENHADJ, MOHAMED RACHID (1949- ). Algerian Benhadj grew 
up in Algiers, studied cinema at Universite de Paris, made documen- 
taries for Radiodiffusion Television Algerienne, then directed his 
first feature. Desert Rose, in 1989. The film recounts, through his 
own eyes, the life of a young, severely handicapped boy, Moussa, 
who struggles to overcome his infirmities in a remote desert village. 
The film’s rich detail is expressed in images and sound rather than 
words. After directing Touchia (1993), concerning social struggle in 
Algeria, Benhadj continued his examination of childhood struggle in 
Mirka (1999), which follows an abandoned infant in the Balkans as 
he searches for his roots and lost mother. It stands as an indictment 
of rape as a tool of war. By this time, Benhadj had moved to Italy; 
however, in 2005, he adapted For Bread Alone from the book by 
Moroccan writer Mohamed Choukri, about the political coming-to- 
consciousness of young Mohamed, a street urchin from a severely 
impoverished Tangiers family. Leaving home to avoid starvation and 
paternal abuse, Mohamed becomes involved in drugs, alcohol, thiev- 
ery, and prostitution, and is eventually arrested and imprisoned at 20. 
In prison, he meets a nationalist leader, learns to read and write, and, 
upon his release, becomes a primary school teacher working to edu- 
cate children how to escape from poverty and ignorance. Benhadj, 
who studied architecture, is also an accomplished painter. 

BEN HIRSI, BADER (1968- ). Born in London, as the youngest of 
14 children to Yemeni exile parents, Bader Ben Hirsi is the direc- 
tor of Yemen’s first feature, A New Day in Old Sana’a (2005). 
Trained in business and theater, Ben Hirsi began to make films in 
collaboration with his childhood friend, also of Yemeni descent, 
Ahmed A1 Abdali, who has composed music for and produced their 
projects. After visiting Yemen for the first time in 1995 at the age of 
27, Ben Hirsi directed a documentary. The English Sheikh and the 
Yemeni Gentleman (2000), chronicling his return visit to his ances- 
tral homeland under the guidance of English expatriate travel writer 
Tim Macintosh-Smith. Ben Hirsi and A1 Abdali have also created 


other documentaries on Yemen’s contested Socatra Island, the Saudi 
response to 9/11, the Hadj pilgrimage, and Yemen and the “war on 
terror.” Shifting into narrative filmmaking, they made several short 
dramas before embarking on A New Day in Old Sana ’a. 

BENJELLOUN, HASSAN (1950- ). Previously a pharmacist, Benjel- 
loun trained in Paris at the Conservatoire libre du cinema francais, and 
has gone on to become one of Morocco’s most prolific directors. His 
Judgment of a Woman (2000) raises the questions of women’s rights 
and divorce, while his comedy, The Pal (2002), enormously popular 
at the box office, depicts poor Moroccans struggling against the rich 
for their legal rights. The Black Room (2004), inspired by the book by 
Jaouad Mdidech, depicts the “Years of Lead” in Morocco under King 
Hassan II, when Marxists, students, and union leaders were impris- 
oned and tortured. Where Are You Going, Moshe? (2007) treats the 
historical period during which Jews were recruited to leave Morocco 
for Israel, told through the device of a bar owner who tries to keep at 
least one Jew in the village so that his bar won’t be closed. 

Benlyazid is a Moroccan journalist, documentarian, screenwriter, and 
filmmaker known for her representations of women’s lives in scripts 
and personal films that often depict their oppression and attempts at 
liberation from patriarchy. Benlyazid studied cinema at the Ecole 
superieure des etudes cinematographiques in Paris, from which she 
graduated in 1976. She returned to Morocco in the early 1980s, where 
she made a television film, Identite de femmes (1979), and scripted 
two films (A Hole in the Wall [1978] and Reed Dolls [1981]) for her 
husband, filmmaker Jilali Ferhati, before turning to her own feature 
filmmaking with A Door to the Sky (1988). She scripted two features 
for Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi: Badis (1988) and Looking for 
the Husband of My Wife (1993). Her next three directorial features 
were adaptations: Women’s Wiles (1999), based on a historical fairy 
tale; Casablanca Casablanca (2002); and The Wretched Life of Juan- 
ita Narboni (2005), based on the novel by Angel Vazques. 

BEN MAHMOUD, MAHMOUD (1947- ). Born in Tunis, beur 
filmmaker Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud studied cinema at the Institut 


national superieur des arts du spectacle et techniques de diffusion, 
then history of art, archaeology, and journalism in Belgium, where he 
has taught since 1988 at the Universite libre de Bruxelles. In addition 
to directing numerous documentaries, Ben Mahmoud’s first feature 
was the autobiographical Crossing Over (aka Crossings) (1981), the 
story of two travelers crossing the English Channel in a ferry, one 
an Arab intellectual (Youssef), the other a working-class Eastern 
European (Bogdan). When they try to disembark at Dover, Bogdan 
is refused entry because he has no money, and Youssef is refused 
because his visa has expired. Their treatment by British customs of- 
ficers is violent and dismissive; Bogdan is subject to a strip-search. 
The ferry returns with them to Belgium, where they receive similar 
treatment from customs officers there; this time, however, Bogdan 
is beaten not only by police but by a local white-supremacist gang 
when he and Youssef try to escape. Forced to remain on board the 
ferry in seeming perpetuity, Bogdan takes a job washing dishes, but, 
dejected by Youssef’ s accusation that he has evaded his political 
responsibilities by refusing to fight back against his ill-treatment, he 
murders a guard. Youssef, on the other hand, decides to write about 
their experience, which metaphorizes exile and alienation in a trans- 
national world. With Fadhel Ja'ibi, Ben Mahmoud subsequently co- 
directed Diamond Dust (1992), which through emphasis on memory 
and genealogy, explores the incapacity of minorities to communicate 
within the dominant culture. A further solo feature. The Pomegranate 
Siesta, was released in 1999. 

BENT FAMILIA (aka TUNISIENNES) (1997). The personal lives 
of three women are exposed and analyzed in this contemporary 
Tunisian melodrama directed by Nouri Bouzid. Aida is a divorced 
college professor, proud of her Arab heritage but equally unashamed 
of her sexuality, who is in love with a Palestinian sequestered in 
Gaza, and criticized as promiscuous by her adolescent son. Her urban 
apartment has become a shelter for Fatiha, a refugee from violence 
in Algeria, and Amina, Aida’s former school friend now married to 
a wealthy banker who confines her to the home and rapes her out of 
jealousy. Through careful alternation between interior and exterior 
scenes, and from the women’s corresponding physical stasis to rela- 
tive mobility, Bouzid traces each woman’s enlightenment and heal- 


ing to shifting social and economic conditions in Tunisia. By film’s 
end, under Aida’s outspoken tutelage, Fatiha decides to return to 
Algeria despite and because of the challenges it presents, and Amina 
to divorce her husband, notwithstanding disapproval from her family 
and social circle. 

BERLIN IN BERLIN (1993). Set in the Turkish sector of Berlin, 
this transnational drama directed by Sinan Cretin depicts the trans- 
fer of gender struggles, social customs, and questions of morality 
across national boundaries in the context of migration from Turkey 
to Germany. The film centers upon an impossible love relationship 
between a Turkish woman and a German engineer that is subjected 
to negative pressure from both cultures. Of interest to scholars and 
critics of exilic and diasporic cinema, Berlin in Berlin also became 
known in Turkey for a scene in which Hiilya Av§ar is portrayed 

BERBER FILMS (aka AMAZIGHT FILMS). The Moroccan gov- 
ernment repressed most expressions of Amazight culture during the 
1970s and 1980s by arresting activists, raiding cultural centers, and 
forbidding cultural production in Tamazight, a Berber language, with 
the exception of folklore. The repression was lifted during the mid- 
1990s, when Amazight video features began to appear. Since then, 
Amazight films on video have been produced privately in greater 
number, although they did not receive support from the Centre cine- 
matographique Marocain until the mid-2000s; an example is Tilila 
(Mohamed Mernich, 2007). 

Most Amazight filmmaking in Morocco occurs in the southern 
region of the country, Tachelhit. Initially, such Amazight films con- 
centrated on the production of music videos; only later did fictional 
features emerge that would support Amazight cultural development 
in the country, not least by filling the void left by cinema and tele- 
vision. Most of these films contain rural settings, although several 
concern urban Amazight communities, mixing professional with 
amateur performers, and telling stories about Amazight life or my- 
thology. Numerous well-known Amazight singers have been featured 
in these early films — an outgrowth of the prior music videos. Drama 
and humor are their predominant genres, with most narratives set in 


modern times; however, several period pieces have also been pro- 
duced. Amazight videos are sold throughout Morocco and in Europe, 
to accommodate the large number of migrating Berber- speakers. Few 
of the videos are made in Tamazight (or in Tarifit, a northern Berber 
language), although this is expected to change now that the Amazight 
cultural movement has been legalized, opening various mechanisms 
of funding to Berber-language productions. 

Amazight filmmaking is by no means confined to Morocco. The 
Kabyle artists of Algeria (who also inhabit parts of Morocco), for 
instance, have played a significant role in promoting Amazight cul- 
ture across the region, often with French support. By the same token, 
the attenuated distinction between Berber and Arab cultures (espe- 
cially in Algeria), originally a product of colonialism that exploited 
such differences for political gain, is still evident in ongoing social 
struggles for Amazight cultural rights, including those surrounding 
cinematic production. This is especially evident in controversies 
surrounding the establishment in Algeria of the Institut royal du 
cinematographique Amazight, a government agency that has been ac- 
cused by Amazight filmmakers of being overly regulated and hence 
censorial of Amazight cultural representation. See also BACCAR, 

BERLINBEIRUT (2004). This 22-minute poetic documentary is the 
work of Beirut-born filmmaker and actress Myrna Maakaron, who 
was educated in Lebanon and France and currently lives in Ger- 
many. Through the sing-song voice and childlike but astute percep- 
tions of the filmmaker (narrated in English), BerlinBeirut fuses the 
cities of Berlin and Beirut through their perceived affinities and his- 
tories, and marks their differences as well (sometimes literally with 
Post-It notes). Footage from both locations is seamlessly integrated, 
as the filmmaker’s onscreen persona, in a purple dress and riding a 
bicycle, traverses both formerly divided cities, recollecting memories 
of growing up during the Lebanese Civil War in Beirut and sharing 
cultural encounters and quotidian experiences of her life in Berlin. 
Another intertextual dimension of the film is the fact that Maakaron 
previously played one of the two young girls navigating Beirut and 
the history of Lebanese cinema in Once Upon a Time, Beirut (Joc- 
elyn Saab, 1995). 


BESHARA, KHAIRY (1947- ). This New Realist filmmaker also 
facilitated the rebirth of documentary cinema in Egypt. Bom in 
Tanta, he graduated from the Egyptian Higher Institute of Cinema in 
1967, after which he studied filmmaking in Poland on fellowship. He 
directed several documentaries during the mid-1970s through the 
early 1980s, and served as an assistant director on Diary of a Country 
Prosecutor (Tawfik Saleh, 1969). He then began directing features. 
The Necklace and the Bracelet (1986) analyzes the social conditions 
of women’s oppression in a poor rural village in which many men 
have left to seek work in cities. The film resists the common tendency 
in Egyptian cinema to stereotype Nubians (black African Berbers, 
or barbaris). His subsequent Sweet Day, Bitter Day (1988) is a 
postmelodrama about a poor Cairene widow (Faten Hamama) with 
three children whose inopportune life choices, determined by social 
conditions, lead to misfortune and unhappiness. In the 1990s, Be- 
shara shifted generic gears away from realism, making Crabs (1990), 
an extremely successful musical featuring rising star Ahmed Zaki. 
It was followed by Ice Cream in Glym (1992), another cross-class 
musical romance, critically reminiscent of Abdel Halim Hafez ve- 
hicles, starring popular teen idol Amr Diab and set in the titular vil- 
lage outside Alexandria. Of Coptic background, Beshara has referred 
to himself as culturally Islamic. He has taught cinema at the Higher 
Institute of Cinema, and experiments with digital filmmaking. 

BEUR CINEMA. Bear filmmakers comprise a generation of Arab and 
Berber cineastes who are the product of cross-cultural upbringings, 
with blood ties to their parents’ homelands in North Africa but other- 
wise rooted in Europe. Technically beurs are French only — although 
Belgians are sometimes included; they represent an ethnographic 
category that emerged following the passage of French immigration 
and naturalization laws, and as a result of colonialism. The term beur 
is French inversion-slang for “ arabe ,” and refers to the French-born 
children of North African (“Maghrebi”) immigrants of Arab as well 
as Amazight/Kabyle origin. Also a pun on beurre , the French word for 
“butter,” and phonetically short for “Berber,” an oppressed Maghrebi 
population, it has come to signify the ambivalence associated with 
bicultural identity. “Fa generation beur” attained prominence during 
the late 1970s and 1980s amid increasing racial tensions, the rise of 


extreme right-wing movements, and national debates across Europe 
about immigration, integration, and assimilation. Many beur films 
are set in the suburbs of Paris and other large French cities, where 
immigrants from the former colonial possessions are concentrated, 
hence the term banlieue (French for “suburb”) cinema, which over- 
laps with, and has been used interchangeably with, beur cinema. 

During the 1970s, the operative term for this grouping of films 
was “cinemas de l’emigration,” the usual focus of which was social 
or political. Included in this period are the early films of the Algerian 
Ali Akika: Journey to the Capital (1977) and Tears of Blood (1980). 
In Belgium, Mohamed Ben Salah (b. 1945 in Oran) directed a low- 
budget feature, Some People and Others (1972), a first-hand account 
of the problems and pressures of immigrant life. Mohamed Benayat, 
born in 1944 in Algeria, and an Algerian citizen brought to France at 
the age of four, was active directing films during the 1970s and 1980s, 
such as The Mask of an Enlightened Woman (1974), Savage Barri- 
cades (1975), The New Romantics (1979), Child of the Stars (1985), 
and Stallion (1988). Abdelkrim Bahloul, born in 1950 in Algeria, and 
also an Algerian citizen, emigrated to France during his teens; he has 
directed Mint Tea (1984), A Vampire in Paradise (1991), The Ham- 
let Sisters (1996), The Night of Destiny (1997), and The Assassinated 
Sun (2004). Other prominent and representative beur filmmakers 
of the 1980s and 1990s include Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud, Nadia 
Fares, Abdellatif Kechiche, Djamila Sahraoui, Said Ould-Khelifa, 
Farouk Beloufa, Rabah Ameur-Zai'meche, Bourlem Guerdjou, 
Malik Chibane, Rachid Bouchareb, Mehdi Charef, Ali Ghalem, 
Belkacem Hadjadj, Okacha Touita, Mahmoud Zemmouri, Amor 
Hakkar, and Karim Dridi. The term remains loosely applied, how- 
ever, and some of these filmmakers, notably Dridi, would not choose 
to use it to describe their work, especially with films that represent 
or touch only tangentially upon the diasporic experience. Some beur 
cinema figures have moved back and forth between France and North 
Africa: an example is Nadir Mokneche (The Harem of Madame Os- 
mane ; 1999), who was born in Paris in 1965, grew up in Algeria, but 
has been living mainly in France since the age of 18. 

Among the few women beur filmmakers is Rachida Krim (b. 1955 
in Ales), who has directed several shorts and one feature. Under 
Women ’s Feet (1996), while Yamina Benguigui has been an impor- 


tant figure since the mid-1990s. Many other North African filmmak- 
ers who have spent considerable time in Europe have connections to 
beur cinema without properly being part of it, among which are two 
additional important female directors: Fatima Jebli Ouazzani, born in 
Morocco in 1959, but residing in the Netherlands since 1970 {In My 
Father’s House, 1997); and Nadia El Fani ( Bedwin Hacker, 2002). 
Since 2000, Ismail Ferroukhi has achieved international recognition 
for his first feature, Le grand voyage (2004), and Bouchareb’s Days 
of Glory (2006) and Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain (2007) have 
drawn considerable international attention. Among other things, 
these more recent films may be seen as critical responses to the 
heightened anti-immigrant sentiment that has arisen in France under 
conditions of neoliberal transnationalism, and that has led to con- 
troversial legislation prohibiting religiously affiliated apparel, such 
as the Muslim headscarf {hijab), in French state schools. See also 

BEYZAI, B AHR AM (a.k.a. BAYZAI) (1938- ). A scholar of theatri- 
cal traditions from around the world, Beyzai was a key figure both of 
the Iranian New Wave and the revitalized auteur cinema that flour- 
ished in Iran in the 1990s. He studied theater and film at Tehran Uni- 
versity, where he proceeded to teach, and wrote many novels, plays, 
and puppet-plays before first turning to narrative film in the 1970s. 
His work consistently references theatrical traditions, folklore, and 
myth; it has also regularly met with censorship both before and after 
the Iranian Revolution of 1979. This is perhaps partly explained by 
his tendency to foreground strong female characters. 

Beyzai’s first feature. Downpour (1972), is a relatively straight- 
forward mystery. The motif of a stranger’s arrival is replayed in 
The Stranger and the Fog (1975), which shows the influence of the 
traditional Shi’i passion play, or taz’ieh. The Crow (1977), now lost, 
depicts the loss of personal and societal identity, and has been read as 
an allegory for the Pahlavi regime. Two films completed at the time 
of the Iranian Revolution, The Ballad of Tara (1978) and The Death 
ofYazdgerd (1980), both mythological and allegorical tales featuring 
Susan Taslimi, were and remain banned in Iran, apparently for their 
depiction of unveiled women. In the former, Taslimi plays the keeper 
of a powerful sword, a similarly totemic figure as Nai’i, who takes in 

66 • BOSTA 

a war-orphaned refugee from the south of Iran in Bashu, the Little 
Stranger (1986), a key film in establishing Iranian cinema’s reputa- 
tion for a deep humanism at the end of the 1980s, but which did not 
receive an exhibition permit in Iran until 1989. 

Maybe Some Other Time (1988) is a self-reflexive mystery 
story, referencing Beyzai’s own The Crow, of a woman (Taslimi 
in her last Iranian role) searching for her family and identity. These 
themes recur in The Travellers (1992), which again utilizes distan- 
ciation techniques reminiscent of taz’ieh, such as direct address, 
in the context of a story about a family who die on their way to a 
wedding but eventually reappear, alive, through the force of the 
matriarch’s refusal to believe in their deaths. Killing Rabid Dogs 
(2001) took many years to complete; it is a dark urban thriller, eas- 
ily interpreted as a critique of the Islamic regime, set in the years 
immediately following the revolution, which depicts the oppres- 
sion of intellectuals. 

BOSTA (2005). Before the international film festival success of Un- 
der the Bombs (2007), filmmaker Philippe Aractingi and producer 
Christian Catafago successfully brought to the screen the first fully 
Lebanese feature film. Using an entirely Lebanese cast and crew, 
they acquired financing from Lebanese businessmen to make a post- 
war road musical centered upon the Lebanese national dance, the 
dabkeh. Bosta attempts to channel postwar anxiety through a story 
of renaissance and rejuvenation. Kamal, who lost his father during 
the Lebanese Civil War, reconvenes his now-closed school’s dance 
troupe in order to compete in the national dabkeh competition; he 
rebels against the traditional conventions of dabkeh , pushing a new, 
modern approach. This theme serves as a thinly veiled commentary 
about the way youth must deal with the baggage of the past in post- 
war Lebanon. Once accepted for competition, Kamal and his troupe 
travel around the country in a brightly colored bus, singing and 
dancing their way to personal resolution— including Kamal’s roman- 
tic relationship with Alia (Nadine Labaki) — and national unity. 
Bosta garnered large audience support and recouped the money 
invested in its production, thus proving to Lebanese financiers that 
Lebanese cinema can be profitable. 


BOUAMARI, MOHAMED (1941-2006). Born in Algeria but raised 
in France, Bouamari returned to Algeria in 1965, to work at the Office 
national pour le commerce et l’industrie cinematographiques as 

an assistant director for Gillo Pontecorvo, Ahmed Rachedi, and Mo- 
hamed Lakhdar-Hamina, while also making his own short films. 
His first feature. The Charcoal Burner (1972), catapulted Bouamari 
to attention, as it set a precedent for interrogating rural transforma- 
tions following the Algerian revolution. His subsequent films — The 
Heritage (1974), First Steps (1978), and Refusal (1982)— analyze the 
conditions of women and their social emancipation. Also an actor, 
Bouamari has appeared in some noteworthy Algerian films, includ- 
ing The Citadel (Mohamed Chouikh, 1988) and Enough! (Djamila 
Sahraoui, 2006). During the 1990s, however, his work was targeted 
by Islamists, and he was forced into temporary exile in France. 
There, at the end of 2006, while in production on his film, Le Mouton 
de Fort-Montluc, which concerns prisoners condemned to death in 
1958 for having participated in the Algerian revolution, he died sud- 
denly and unexpectedly; the film has not been completed. 

BOUCHAREB, RACHID (1953[1956?]- ). Bom in France to Alge- 
rian parents, Bouchareb studied cinema at the Centre d’etudes et 
de recherches de V image et du son, then directed films for French 
television (SFP, TF1 , Antenne 2). Recognized for critically reflecting 
a “global village” in which different cultures co-exist in mutual igno- 
rance, Bouchareb ’s films project themes of alienation, marginaliza- 
tion, and exile, and narrate stories of immigration, identity crisis, the 
search for home, and the return to origins. He has filmed in Africa, 
Vietnam, the United States, and Europe, and many of his films have 
been short-listed for Academy Awards. 

Bouchareb’s first feature. Baton Rouge (1985), tells an ostensi- 
bly true story of three Parisian friends who, inspired by the Rolling 
Stones rock group, decide to emigrate to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 
The film recounts their adventures until their expulsion by the im- 
migration services. His second film, Cheb (1991), a pointed critique 
of the French policy of deporting “immigrants” for petty crimes, 
focuses on Merwan, a 19-year-old beur who has been expelled from 
France and forced to return to Algeria, where he was born, but where 


he now finds the language and customs quite alien. The Algerian au- 
thorities confiscate his passport and enroll him in mandatory military 
service— in the desert— where other soldiers constantly remind him 
of his foreignness. Swapping passports with a Frenchman he en- 
counters, he reenters France but is conscripted once again into army 
service. In Little Senegal (2000), Alloune, a tour guide in a museum 
to the notorious slave island, Goree, traces the path of his ances- 
tors, who were sold into North American slavery, to Harlem, United 
States, where he discovers Ida, a forceful kiosk owner who has no 
interest in her African roots. 

Bouchareb’s interest in the North African experience abroad is 
continued with his Days of Glory (2006), a suspenseful, action- 
packed war film in the tradition of the Hollywood genre that exposes 
the exploitation of North African soldiers who either volunteered for 
or were conscripted into the Gaullist forces during World War II. 
With the exception of the less widely distributed Camp de Thiaroye 
(Ousmane Sembene, 1987), the role of Africans in this primarily 
European war had been ignored, if not largely forgotten, prior to 
Bouchareb’s cinematic intervention. 

BOUGHEDIR, FERID (1944- ). A self-taught filmmaker, but also 
a historian, theorist, and film critic for Jeune Afrique magazine, 
Boughedir was born in Hammam-Lif, Tunisia. He studied in both 
Paris and Rome, earning a master’s degree in literature and a doc- 
torate in African and Arab cinema, as well as a diploma in cinema 
studies. During the 1970s and 1980s, he worked as an academic film 
critic and a documentarian of cinema, writing key commentaries on 
the history and present state of the medium in Africa, African Cinema 
from A to Z and The Cinema in Africa and in the World , and direct- 
ing the documentaries, African Camera (1983) and Camera Arabe: 
The Young Arab Cinema (1987, edited by Moufida Tlatli), thus 
becoming one of the most important intellectual theorists of Arab 
cinema. Boughedir’ s contribution to film theory includes a schematic 
classification system that categorizes films based upon the relation- 
ship ascertainable between their estimable audience effects and the 
theoretical positions of their directors. This system refers to directors 
as auteurs, and includes categories that describe political, moral, 


commercial, cultural, self-expressive, and narcissistic -intellectual 
functions of cinema. 

Boughedir’s early work in fictional filmmaking consisted of 
contributing an episode to the collective feature In the Land of the 
Tararani (1972), co-directing Murky Death (with Claude d’Anna, 
1970), and assistant-directing several foreign productions. In 1990, 
however, Boughedir made his first film as sole director for the ac- 
claimed Halfaouine: Child of the Terraces , a male rite-of-passage 
story that was screened widely at international film festivals, and 
which remains the most financially successful of all Tunisian films. 
Halfaouine was followed by another popular success, A Summer in 
La Goulette (1995). 

BOULANE, AHMED (1956- ). Ahmed Boulane began his artistic 
career in the 1970s as an actor for Moroccan theater and televi- 
sion. In the 1980s, he began working as an assistant director, then 
became a well-known casting director and an actor in more than 25 
international films. His company, Boulane O’Byme Productions, 
offers casting and production services in Morocco for international 
film-television projects. His first feature, Ali, Rabia and the Others 
(2000), treats Ali’s difficult return from prison to encounter those he 
knew as a hippie youth in the 1960s, during Morocco’s “Years of 
Lead,” all of whom have taken different paths. The Satanic Angels 
(2007) is based on a true story that raised an outcry over freedom of 
artistic expression in Morocco in the late 1990s: the controversial 
arrest of 14 young Moroccan rock musicians accused of antisocial 
behavior contrary to Islam. 

BOUREKAS. Named after a stuffed pastry indigenous to Turkey, the 
bourekas genre of Israeli filmmaking places uneducated, poor, and 
working-class Mizrahi characters into awkward and unlikely predica- 
ments, the pain and contradictions of which are ameliorated through 
musical numbers and slapstick comedy. Bourekas films are examples 
of orientalism: they rehearse Western stereotypes meant at once to 
promote assimilation of Mizrahi Jews into Ashkenazi-dominated 
society and to construct Israeli identity in the image of a fetishized 
“Orient.” The most renowned bourekas film is Sallach Shabbati 


(Ephraim Kishon, 1964), a musical comedy starring Fiddler on the 
Roofs Haim Topol as a Yemeni immigrant to Israel whose son falls 
in love with an Ashkenazi kibbutznik (Gila Almagor). Ra’anan Al- 
exandrowicz would later name one of the characters in his James’ 
Journey to Jerusalem (2003) after Shabbati. Also noteworthy is The 
Policeman (Kishon, 1970), the star of which, Shaike Ophir, was 
frequently cast in Mizrahi roles. With the advent of Young Israeli 
Cinema, a post -bourekas genre emerged that ostensibly took more 
seriously the conditions and aspirations of Mizrahi Israelis. Examples 
include Queen of the Road (Menachem Golan, 1971), The House on 
Chelouche Street (Moshe Mizrahi, 1973), Sh’chur (Shmuel Hasfari, 
1994), and Three Mothers (Dina Zvi-Riklis, 2006) — all of which 
feature Almagor. 

BOUZID, NOURI (1945- ). Born in Sfax, Tunisia, Bouzid studied 
film at the Institut national des arts du spectacle et technique de la 
diffusion in Belgium from 1968 to 1972. Back in Tunisia (1972- 
73), Bouzid worked for Radio-Television Tunisienne, then was 
arrested and imprisoned (1973-1979) for membership in the leftist 
Groupe des etudes et d’action socialistes Tunisienne. He worked 
subsequently on numerous Tunisian and international films before 
writing and directing his own features. These works have addressed 
social taboos, especially around gender and sexuality, by locating 
their root causes in the related phenomena of social division and 
political exploitation. 

Bouzid’ s Man of Ashes (1986) is a landmark film in the history 
of Tunisian cinema, noteworthy for its analysis of male sexuality 
that involves positioning the sexual abuse of young boys by an older 
male authority figure as a key narrative element; and for its recogniz- 
able lament of Tunisia’s lost Jewish community. Golden Horseshoes 
(1989) derives from Bouzid’s own prison experiences, as its formerly 
incarcerated protagonist is tormented by memories of torture and 
violence. Bezness (1992) analyzes the problem of sex tourism on the 
streets and beaches of Tunisia’s tourist towns, through the contempo- 
rary story of a poor young man who, while attempting to earn money 
from foreign visitors through prostitution, claims to follow Muslim 
tradition when dealing strictly with his sister. 

BRIDE, THE • 71 

Bent Familia (aka Tunisiennes ) (1997) offers an intimate portrait 
of three middle-aged women in contemporary Tunisia: Aida, a tough, 
brash professor who is divorced and unashamed of her sexuality; 
Fatiha, a shy Algerian refugee who has suffered violent abuse in her 
own country and fears for her remaining loved ones; and Amina, the 
film’s central character, who seeks strength to cope with her confin- 
ing, authoritarian husband. Clay Dolls (2002) continues Bouzid’s 
practice of interweaving character perspectives through montage 
and nonlinear narratives, to analyze the emotional and psychological 
survival strategies of two young, rebellious rural women, Fedhah and 
Rebeh (Hend Sabri), recruited to work as domestic servants in the 
homes of wealthy Tunisian families. Making 0/ (2005) addresses the 
lure of Islamism for young Tunisians acting in response to political 
repression and economic disadvantage. 

In addition to directing, Bouzid adapted and scripted several ac- 
claimed Tunisian films during the 1990s, including Ferid Boughe- 
dir’s Halfaouine: Child of the Terraces (1990) and A Summer in 
La Goulette (1995), and Moufida Tlatli’s The Silences of the Pal- 
ace (1994) and Season of Men (2000). Fie is also a significant critic 
of Arab cinema, having written the important essay, “New Realism 
in Arab Cinema: The Defeat-Conscious Cinema” (1988), among 
other works. Bouzid founded the Tunis Ecole des arts et du cinema 
in 1994, where he still teaches. Fie has also taught film at the Faculty 
of Philosophy of La Manouba University in Tunis and at the Film 
Institute in Gammarth. Bouzid was awarded the Chevalier des Arts 
et Lettres in France in 1992 and the Presidential Prize of the Cinema 
in Tunisia in 1998, as well as the 2007 Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom 
of Thought for his work in challenging injustice and promoting criti- 
cal thought in Arab society. 

BRIDE, THE (1973). This first installment of Liitfi O. Akad’s migra- 
tion trilogy focuses on a rural Turkish family’s troubled attempt to 
survive and adapt to life in urban Istanbul. As with the trilogy’s sub- 
sequent installments. The Wedding (1973) and Blood Money (1974), 
The Bride centers upon the challenges faced by women under such 
conditions. Hiilya Ko^yigit plays Meryem, a woman who must 
abandon her traditional role as a housewife for work in a factory. In 


Blood Money , the plot is slightly revised, as Meryem migrates from 
a village to Istanbul with her two children. 

- C - 

CAIRO STATION (1958). Youssef Chahine’s realist representation 
of life in Cairo’s main train station was his 1 1th feature, but the first 
to break with the dominant industry aesthetic in Egypt. It remains a 
classic of Egyptian realism. Nevertheless, it retains a melodramatic 
plot structure in which Kinawi (Chahine), a physically disabled and 
sexually frustrated newspaper seller, attempts to woo precocious 
cola-seller Hannouma (Hind Rustom), who is instead attracted to 
Abu Srei’ (Farid Shawqi), a muscular porter who hopes to organize 
a trade union among the station workers. Eventually Kinawi’s impo- 
tent desire— signified partly by the interior of his old railway carriage 
quarters, which is covered with cheesecake pin-ups— boils over, and 
he kills a woman he mistakenly believes is Hannouma, before taking 
the real Hannouma hostage, knife to her throat, on the railway tracks. 
Talked out of killing her by his employer, the news-stand owner, he 
is led away in a straightjacket, while the film’s final shot returns us 
to a subsidiary character, a young woman who looks wistfully at the 
tracks along which her boyfriend has just departed by train. This end- 
ing completes the construction of a bleak worldview that character- 
izes most of the film, although both Abu Srei’s stand against exploi- 
tation and Hannouma’ s joyful song-and-dance as she passes through 
a carnage selling bottled soda tend to mitigate the gloom. Nominated 
for an acting award at the subsequent Berlin Film Festival, Chahine 
came to believe that he was denied recognition there because the 
jury did not believe he was not actually disabled— as recorded in his 
autobiographical Alexandria trilogy/quartet. 

CAIRO 30 (1966). Salah Abu Seif directed Lufti al-Kohli's adapta- 
tion of Naguib Mahfouz’s story, set in Cairo in 1933, at the time of 
Egypt’s repressive, mostly British-controlled Sidqi administration’s 
repeal of the 1923 Constitution. Ali, Mahgoub, and Ahmad Bedhir 
are students; the former, a fervent socialist, is in love with Ehsan 
(Souad Hosni), a poor young woman whose parents want her to 


use her beauty by marrying into money that will support the family. 
Indeed, she is eventually seduced by the wealthy Kassem Bey, in an 
expressionistic sequence in which she is showered with chocolates, 
jewelry, and clothes. Meanwhile, the self-centered Mahgoub, who 
survives on the meager savings of his impoverished village family, 
attempts to get a job from Salem Bey, the son of a baker from his 
home village, who has made good in Cairo. Voice-over commentary 
from the unsympathetic, often self-pitying Mahgoub accompanies 
much of the action when he is onscreen. On Salem’s advice, Mah- 
goub purchases a ticket to a society ball, where he can be introduced 
to the hostess. This high-society sequence is shot in saturated color in 
contrast to the black-and-white photography and realist aesthetic of 
the rest of the film. Out of place among the rich, Mahgoub is greeted 
by a surprised Ahmad Bedhir, a journalist who is covering the event 
for his paper and who provides cynical commentary on the speeches. 
However, Mahgoub is presented with another route to success when 
Salem asks him to marry Kassem Bey’s mistress. This turns out to 
be Ehsan, who has always disliked Mahgoub, partially because of 
his apparent desire for her. Set up together in a plush apartment, 
they start to build a relationship, but Mahgoub must leave the house 
whenever Kassem Bey wants to see Ehsan. Mahgoub has continued 
to pretend to his parents that he still has no job; however, he is even- 
tually confronted by his father, who has come to Cairo. At the same 
moment Kassem Bey’s wife discovers the fa£ade. 

Meanwhile, Ahmad Bedhir has told Ali of Ehsan’s marriage to 
Mahgoub. Eventually, Ehsan visits Ali — who has continued his 
leftist agitation after he has been arrested and tortured— realizing 
that he has been the one person in her life to have remained true to 
his principles and to her. Orders come down from the palace that 
he must be killed, and the film ends with him running through the 
crowded streets trying to avoid several gunmen; nevertheless, Cairo 
30 ends with an element of hope, for as he runs, Ali throws out fliers 
inscribed with the phrase, “The Beginning of the End.” 

gAKMAKLI, YUCEL (1964- ). After graduating from a journalism 
program, Cakrnakli worked as a literary and film critic before enter- 
ing the film industry as a second assistant director. One year after 
directing a well-received documentary about the Muslim pilgrimage 


to Mecca, which compiled footage from Egyptian documentaries 
and Hollywood films, Cakmakli made his first feature, the Islamic 
melodrama Merging Paths (1970), with two Ye^il^am stars, Tiirken 
§oray and Izzet Giinay. Two decades following this literary adapta- 
tion, he directed another, Abdullah ofMinye (1989), about pressures 
placed by secular authorities upon the titular Egyptian religious 
figure, which allegorized similar pressures in Turkey. Cakmakli’s 
films combine Ycsilcam’s visual and narrative vocabulary with 
conservative Islamic sentiment that opposes secular, Republican 


CAMP DE THIAROYE ( 1987 ). The first film to be funded along a 
pan-African axis— Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia— that was also shot 
and edited entirely on the African continent. Camp de Thiaroye was 
Senegalese author and filmmaker Ousmane Sembene’s sixth directo- 
rial feature. A docu-drama set toward the end of World War II, Camp 
de Thiaroye depicts the mortal consequences for several hundred 
West African veterans who, confined to barracks back in Senegal, 
having served by conscription in the Gaullist army against the Nazis 
in Europe, demand their due wages upon completion of their tour of 
duty. Originally to have been directed by Mahama Johnson Traore, 
Camp de Thiaroye was offered subsequently to Sembene, known 
widely as the progenitor of sub-Saharan African cinema, after Traore 
refused censorial requests to deemphasize African collaborationism 
within the film’s story. 

Sembene’s production managed nonetheless to integrate such de- 
pictions into a complex cinematic analysis of postcolonial conditions 
and choices, including documentary inserts of African soldiers’ 
victimization in the Holocaust, that utilizes montage, plan-sequence 
shooting, and polylingual dialogue (French, Wolof, Diola, English), 
and engages African folklore and oral tradition, social realism. Third 
Cinema, and the modernist avant-garde — all typical of Sembene’s 
diverse body of works — in order to foreground the social causes and 
contradictions of colonialism and its contemporary legacy, for film- 
making as well as for Africa generally. 


CANTICLE OF THE STONES (1990). Michel Khleifi’ s cinemati- 
cally most experimental work was inspired by modernist French 
novelist Marguerite Duras’ Hiroshima, mon amour and edited by 
Tunisian cineaste Moufida Tlatli (The Silences of the Palace). An 
anonymous Palestinian woman returns home after a 20-year exile 
in the United States, where she had emigrated following the political 
imprisonment of her activist lover. Now a scholar studying the In- 
tifada, the woman learns that her lover has just been released from 
an Israeli jail. The two reunite at a Jerusalem hotel, where a highly 
poetic dialogue ensues concerning their respective life choices vis-a- 
vis the Israeli Occupation. The lyricism of the dialogue is matched 
by Tlatli’s editing, which blurs the boundaries between fact and 
fiction— an effect underscored and complicated by the visual resem- 
blance between the characters and renowned Palestinian political fig- 
ures Hanan Ashrawi (also featured in Hanan Ashrawi: A Woman of 
Her Time [Mai Masri, 1995]) and Marwan Barghouti, respectively, 
as well as by the key insertion of documentary footage from the In- 
tifada, and the deliberate usage of classical Arabic ( Fusha ). Canticle 
was Khleifi’s second feature and, like Wedding in Galilee (1987), 
received European as well as domestic funding. 

CAPTAIN ABU RAED (2007). Combining a professional cast with 
children sought out from Palestinian refugee camps around the 
country. Captain Abu Raed is arguably the first Jordanian narra- 
tive feature, certainly the first to receive international distribution. 
It was shot with the support of the Royal Film Commission, set up 
by King Abdullah in 2003 to encourage more filmmaking in Jordan. 
American Film Institute-trained director Amin Matalqa, a Jordanian 
who spent his teenage years in Ohio, utilizes multiple crane and 
panoramic shots and nondiegetic music to tell a melodramatic story 
about an airport cleaner (Fondon-based Jordanian actor Nadim Saw- 
alha, who had not made a film in Jordan for many years), who, hav- 
ing retrieved a captain’s hat from a trash can, is mistaken for a pilot 
by the children in his working-class neighborhood of East Amman. 
The children convince him to spin them tales of faraway places — that 
he, like them, has never visited. Eater, after an older boy, Murad, re- 
veals to them Abu Raed’s humble station, he decides to make actual 


interventions in their difficult lives, climaxing in his rescue of Murad, 
along with the boy’s mother and brother, from their violently abusive 
father, who then kills Abu Raed. A glamorous, rich, but dissatisfied 
female pilot (television talk-show host, Rana Sultan) who Abu Raed 
had befriended eventually takes in the displaced family, allowing the 
film to extend its portrait of Amman to the wealthy, western part of 
the city. 

CARAMEL (2007). Directed by Nadine Labaki, this film focuses on 
the gendered space of a beauty salon in order to grapple with the vari- 
ous social challenges facing Lebanese women involved in romantic 
relationships. Through the perspectives of five different women, the 
spectator witnesses the difficulties of dating a married man, strug- 
gling with the expectations of a mother-in-law, negotiating one’s 
homosexuality, sustaining a husband’s interest, and facing romantic 
prospects later in life. Each subplot is interwoven through the site 
of the salon, where friendship offers comfort and support. Although 
lighthearted and comical, Caramel conveys a message of gender 
solidarity across sectarian, sexual, and generational boundaries. 
Most striking is the film’s complete erasure of the Lebanese Civil 
War, which typically dominates Lebanese cinema. Instead, the film 
projects a universal message in the form of a romantic comedy that 
has appealed widely to international audiences, making Caramel the 
financially most successful Lebanese film ever. 

CARIOCA, TAHIYYA (1915[1920?]-1999). This renowned Egyp- 
tian movie star and belly dancer made more than 200 films during a 
career that lasted more than 50 years, and was married an astounding 
14 times. Positioned within the film industry as the rival to Samia 
Gamal— both of them began their careers in Badia Masabni’s variety 
club— Carioca, her stage name adopted from the Brazilian dance, the 
“Karioka,” made famous by Carmen Miranda, often performed live 
alongside Umm Kulthum, who admired her musicality. Carioca’ s 
first big role was in The Woman and the Puppet (Wali Eddine Sameh, 
1946), one of her most famous in The Thug (aka The Tough Guy) 
(Salah Abu Seif, 1957). 

During her later years, Carioca would feature in numerous auteur 
vehicles, including Mother of the Bride (Atef Salem, 1963); Karnak 


(Ali Badrakhan, 1975), again as a mother-figure; The Water-bearer 
Is Dead (Abu Seif, 1977); Alexandria, Again and Forever (Youssef 
Chahine, 1990), in which she plays herself; and Mercedes (Yousry 
Nasrallah, 1993). She also appears, famously, as Zuzu’s mother and 
leader of a dance troupe, who fears her daughter (Souad Hosni) may 
descend into prostitution, in Watch Out for Zuzu (Hassan El-Imam, 
1972). For four months in 1953, Carioca was jailed for her pro- 
Constitutional views and for helping found an anti-Nasserist politi- 
cal organization. She ran a theater in Cairo during the 1980s. 

PHIQUES DE CARTHAGE. Begun in 1966 by the Tunisian 
Ministry of Culture, this festival, held biannually in the ancient 
Phoenician city on the Mediterranean, was the first in the region to 
focus exclusively on African and Middle Eastern films. It is held 
on alternate years to the other major African festival, Ouagadougou- 
based FESPACO. Grand Prize (Golden Tanit) winners at Carthage 
have included Wedding in Galilee (Michel Khleifi) in 1988, The 
Night (Mohammad Malas) in 1992, The Silences of the Palace 
(Moufida Tlatli) in 1994, Saint Cousin! (Merzak Allouache) in 
1996, In Casablanca, Angels Don’t Fly (Mohamed Asli) in 2002, 
and Making Of (Nouri Bouzid) in 2006. 

CENSORSHIP. Censorship of the cinema in its various forms has 
been and continues to be practiced in many Middle Eastern coun- 
tries. The most commonly censored subjects have been religion, 
sex and sexuality (particularly homosexuality), and criticism of the 
state or government. Such restrictions are generally applied to films 
produced within a country, as well as to imported products, and may 
result in certain parts of a film being cut— or its outright prohibition. 
An extreme instance of this is Saudi Arabia, where for many years 
no films have been sanctioned for public exhibition (although this 
may now be changing). Censorship may also be applied earlier in 
the filmmaking process, as in the vetting of scripts or denial of fund- 
ing for a film, director, or performers. Censorship typically operates 
somewhat arbitrarily, partly because censorship regulations are com- 
monly open to considerable interpretive latitude, with specific re- 
strictions (such as Anwar Sadat’s on treatment of Egypt’s defeat by 


Israel in 1967) relatively unusual. Changes in government or in the 
persons or offices responsible for enforcing censorship regulations 
may prompt revisions in their interpretation and the degree of vigor 
with which they are applied. Such factors may also lead to self-cen- 
sorship, in which filmmakers, consciously or not, avoid certain topics 
or scenes. In extreme instances, filmmakers may be jailed, exiled, or 
even threatened with violence or death, as has been the case, in the 
late 1990s and 2000s, during the rise of Islamism and its ensuing 
suppression in Algeria— just one of several obstacles to filmmaking 
in a country in which production has effectively halted— perhaps the 
most severe form of censorship. 

A brief survey of censorship issues in Iran will help illustrate a 
number of these contradictions and dilemmas. One of the earliest 
films shot in the country, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack’s 
documentary, Grass (1924), about a rural tribe’s extraordinary an- 
nual journey across raging river and high mountain to fresh pasture, 
did not coincide with the government’s idea of a modernizing and 
industrializing country— a common reason for censorship in Iran 
and elsewhere— and was not exhibited. Laws codified in 1938 tight- 
ened restrictions, leading to restrictive censorship in the 1940s that 
blocked many imports perceived as contradicting the Shah’s agenda. 
The 1950s have been identified as a time of considerable self-censor- 
ship in Iran: a new censorship code was instituted at the start of the 
decade that included prohibitions on nudity, sexuality, and material 
perceived either to conflict with Shi "i Islam or as detrimental to the 
monarchy, the status quo, or the law. In 1958, Farrokh Ghaffari’s 
harsh realist South of the City , a reference to the slums of the capital, 
Tehran, was banned and mutilated. Censorship of foreign and domes- 
tic pictures alike continued apace, with new, more detailed regula- 
tions along the same lines promulgated in 1965. In 1968, the partly 
government-funded The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui), with its bleak por- 
trayal of an uncivilized, intimidated rural society and seeming alle- 
gorical reference to contemporary corruption, was promptly banned. 
However, its subsequent success at Venice and other international 
film festivals led to a reversal of this policy, as the film came to be 
viewed as favorable publicity for Iran’s government- supported art 
scene rather than as an expose of conditions in its rural backwaters. 
Nevertheless, in the years leading up to the Iranian Revolution of 


1979, film exhibition permits continued to be denied or excessively 
delayed, whereupon self-censorship persisted. 

Following the establishment of the Islamic Republic, films already 
in circulation were reviewed and new permits denied, while most 
prerevolutionary directors and performers were disallowed work 
in the cinema, forcing many of them into exile. Stringent censor- 
ship laws remained in place despite some significant government 
measures to encourage Iranian cinema at home and abroad. Films 
had now to be approved on a multitiered basis— as screenplays, as 
projects with cast-and-crew attached, and when completed— then 
subsequently rated for quality and assigned to corresponding exhibi- 
tion venues and times accordingly. These regulations were adapted 
slightly as the new regime became entrenched and the war with Iraq 
drew to a close; on a microlevel, Abbas Kiarostami has described 
how waiting for the appointment of a new government official might 
sometimes produce a permission denied by the predecessor. Under 
the auspices of Mohammed Khatami, first as minster for culture 
and Islamic guidance and later as president of the Republic, some 
prohibitions were reversed; nevertheless, many remain in place, 
perhaps most dramatically the barring of images of women deemed 
insufficiently clad or veiled. Thus domestic scenes— where, in real- 
ity, women are unlikely to be so covered— or those set in secular, 
prerevolutionary environments are inherently artificial and have 
indeed mostly been avoided by filmmakers. 

Many powerful and significant Iranian directors, including Meh- 
rjui, Bahram Beyzai, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Ebrahim Hatamikia, 
Jafar Panahi, Abolfazl Jalili, Bahman Qobadi, and Tahmineh 
Milani have had their films censored. In Makhmalbaf’ s case, some 
have been shot abroad in Turkey (A Time for Love, 1990) and Tajiki- 
stan ( The Silence, 1998) to avoid regulations at home, while Milani 
has suffered arrest and imprisonment. Beyzai’ s — and perhaps the 
country’s — leading actress, Susan Taslimi, whose portrayals were 
responsible for the banning of some of his films, left Iran for Swe- 
den in the 1980s, while in the 2000s, Babak Payami, an expatriate 
Canadian-Iranian, seems to have abandoned his stated intention of 
making films there in the face of censorship. Qobadi has acknowl- 
edged— and regretted— self-censorship with respect to his Half-Moon 
(2006), while Panahi has resolutely resisted the temptation— but at 


the expense of domestic exhibition for The Circle (2000) and Offside 
(2007). Despite such hindrances, Panahi, like Kiarostami, has also 
been forthright in reminding Western audiences that censorship is by 
no means a Middle Eastern phenomenon; it exists in many forms, and 
is practiced in the United States and Europe largely on the basis of 
economic considerations and the ideological codes supporting them. 

Financial obstacles to filmmaking cinema have also functioned as 
a form of censorship throughout much of the so-called developing 
world. Many Middle Eastern directors have struggled to produce 
more than one film and often encounter resistance after an initial suc- 
cess. In Syria, for example, the release of Mohammad Malas’ sec- 
ond feature. The Night (1992), made a decade after his first. Dreams 
of the City (1983), was delayed by the Censor Board for five years; 
and the film’s co-scriptwriter, director Oussama Mohammad, was 
unable to complete his next feature for 15 years. Nevertheless, as 
Mohammad has pointed out, in a country in which the state -run 
industry produces only two or three films per year, this predicament 
may be closer to a miracle than a tragedy. 

In Turkey, as elsewhere throughout the region, the level and 
character of cinematic censorship has changed over the years, de- 
pending upon the ideological priorities of successive governments. 
During the Ye^il^am era, strict government control was exerted 
over Turkish and foreign films by the Ministry of the Interior, and 
censorship restrictions were updated on a regular basis until 1986, 
when the Ministry of Culture finally assumed control of cinematic 
regulation. As in Iran, the main targets of censorship were perceived 
immorality and affronts to the nation, as well as religious and politi- 
cal divergence, while a tiered process of approval from screenplay to 
completed film was applied here, too, to domestic productions. This 
is also true of Lebanese cinema, where, notwithstanding exhibition 
of hypersexualized soft-core pornography during the prewar era, any 
content addressing sectarian differences and detailing the Lebanese 
Civil Wars has been subject to strict censorship under the controver- 
sial postwar amnesty. 

With the exception of Palestinian Revolution Cinema, financial 
assistance for Palestinian film projects has been meager. Jorda- 
nian, Egyptian, and Israeli control of the Occupied Palestinian 


Territories (OPTs) has entailed restriction and censorship of Pal- 
estinian cultural expression, perceived as a threatening statement 
of nationalist sentiment against foreign or occupying forces. Thus, 
prior to the Oslo Accords, most films produced by Palestinians were 
filmed outside historic Palestine, while subsequently, funding from 
European sources has become increasingly available. Still, many Pal- 
estinian filmmakers are disallowed travel or shooting permits within 
Israel and the OPTs, including Rashid Masharawi, several times, 
and Annemarie Jacir in 2007. Until 1969, Israel itself informally 
censored representation of Palestinians, the Nakba, and other top- 
ics— including the Holocaust— considered threatening to Zionism, 
after which, during the onset of the Israeli Occupation, the Second 
Television and Radio Authority of the Israeli Film Center instituted 
formal restrictions. In 1991, the resulting Israeli Censorship Board 
was disbanded, and censorship is now under the auspices of the Min- 
istry of the Interior. The new Board initially banned Mohammed 
Bakri’s Jenin, upon its release in 2002, but Bakri filed suit against 
the ban, and the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the decision in 
2003, even as the Board continued to refer to the film as “propa- 
ganda.” In 2007, Bakri was sued by Israeli soldiers who appear in the 
film for having screened it in Israel during the initial ban, and was 
threatened with prison or revocation of his Israeli citizenship; he was 
acquitted, and the case dismissed, in 2008. 

In certain instances, censorship that targets one film or filmmaker 
may yet pave the way for another’s success. The films of Moroc- 
can Abdelkader Lagtaa, for instance, have consistently challenged 
taboos and provoked controversy, as he explores— rather than 
avoids — the most sensitive areas of society to which the govern- 
ment would rather not draw attention. His Love Affair in Casablanca 
(1990) is uncommonly sexually permissive, while The Closed Door 
(2000) addresses homosexuality, and The Casablancans (1998) tack- 
les police harassment and the growing Islamist movement in schools. 
All were targets of censorship, yet their having served to expand the 
scope of Moroccan cinema was crucial to the blossoming career of 
Nabil Ayouch, now both a domestically successful and internation- 
ally acclaimed filmmaker. See also REPUBLICAN IDEOLOGY 


CINEMATIC ART AND INDUSTRY. November 1987 saw the 
replacement by this organization of both the Entreprise nationale 
de production cinematographique and the Entreprise nationale 
de distribution et d ’exploitation cinematographique, which, only 
three years earlier, had themselves succeeded the Office national 
pour le commerce et l’industrie cinematographiques as the cen- 
tral agency for administering Algerian cinema. The Algerian cinema 
sector was reorganized yet again in October 1993: production was 
privatized, as film directors were offered three years’ salary to en- 
courage the establishment of individual production companies, and 
CAAIC funding for production was limited to state support for spe- 
cific projects on the basis of approved scripts. In 1998, the Algerian 
government dismantled the CAAIC (along with the newsreel organi- 
zation Agence nationale des actualites filmees, which operated under 
its auspices), laying off 217 employees. The government proposed 
a substitute institution, but powerful proponents of neoliberalism 
preempted its establishment, claiming that nonprofit filmmaking was 
not worth funding. 

TER FOR MOROCCAN CINEMA. Established in 1944 under 
colonial rule to produce Moroccan films that would challenge the 
dominance of Egyptian films in the country, and to create a sense of 
national unity in the face of colonialism, the CCM continued to exist 
as a state agency following Moroccan independence in 1956, and re- 
mains of central importance to contemporary Moroccan cinema. The 
CCM controls almost all sectors of cinematic activity in the country, 
including the issuing of permits to imported films and films slated for 
theatrical exhibition or video circulation, as well as for the produc- 
tion of films within Morocco: the allocation of funds accrued from 
taxes on ticket sales to Moroccan filmmakers; the administration of 
Fonds Sud Cinema; the oversight of theaters, cinema clubs, and cin- 
ema caravans; the hosting of a national film festival; the maintenance 
of an archive containing Moroccan and CCM-produced films; the 
management of a national film fund; the operation of a cinematheque 
and screening room; and the housing of film development laborato- 


ries, editing studios, and several administrative offices. Originally 
a subset of the Ministry of the Interior, the CCM is currently under 
the auspices of the Ministry of Communication. The Center was di- 
rected by Souheil Ben Barka from 1986 until 2003, and is currently 
directed by Noureddine Sail. 

NEMA CENTER. Algeria’s state-run CNC was established in 
the early 1960s, just after the country’s hard-won independence, 
but remained in operation only until 1967, when it was dissolved 
into the Office national pour le commerce et Tindustrie cine- 

gETIN, SINAN (1953- ). An art history graduate with some experi- 
ence in painting, photography, and graphic design, Cetin began his 
film career as an assistant to important Ye§il?am directors such as 
Zeki Okten and Atif Yilmaz, before making a couple of social issue 
documentaries and a social realist film. The Story of a Day (1980). 
Despite frequent criticism of his late Yes i I cam films for their popular 
cultural themes, Cetin is well-known for Berlin in Berlin (1993), a 
grim story of life for Turkish migrant workers in Berlin, and Pro- 
paganda (1998), about the construction of a fictive border through a 
Kurdish village that straddles Turkey and Syria. 

CEYLAN, NURi BiLGE (1959- ). Ceylan, born in Istanbul, re- 
ceived an electrical engineering degree in Turkey before entering a 
two-year educational program in cinema. He garnered national and 
international recognition for his third directorial endeavor. Distant 
(2002), about an urban photographer’s estranged relation to his ru- 
ral relative, which was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes 
Film Festival. Ceylan’s subsequent, quasi-autobiographical film, 
Climates (2006), about the troubled relationship between an artist, 
played by Ceylan, and his lovers, was shown at international film 
festivals and art houses, as was Three Monkeys (2008), a non-auto- 
biographical, realist story of a dislocated family, for which he was 
awarded best director at Cannes. Considered an auteur of the new 
cinema of Turkey, Ceylan’s films utilize highly stylized deep-focus 
and plan-sequence cinematography to explore solitude, social and 


environmental alienation, existential restlessness, human relations, 
and (with the exception of Three Monkeys) autobiographical themes. 
He is married to Ebru Ceylan, his co-star in Climates. 

CHAHINE, YOUSSEF (1926-2008). Born in Alexandria of mixed 
Lebanese and Greek parentage, at a time when that Egyptian city 
was a cosmopolitan melting pot of international influences, Cha- 
hine, Arab cinema’s premier auteur, often credited the importance 
of Alexandria to his films’ typical arguments for tolerance and ac- 
knowledgment of the “other.” Chahine was educated in the tradition 
of the British public school at the city’s exclusive Victoria College. 
Some of the milieu and experience of his early life are depicted in 
his Alexandria, Why? (1978), which also deals tangentially with 
the early death by misadventure of his elder brother. From Alex- 
andria, Chahine went to the Pasadena Playhouse in Los Angeles, 
California, to train as an actor, but upon his return to Cairo went 
into directing, apparently because of a perception that his looks 
would not garner him many parts as an actor. His earliest films, 
beginning with Amin, My Father (1950) and Nile Boy (1951), are 
genre vehicles made within the Egyptian studio system, although 
in retrospect they reveal their director’s formal inventiveness and 
the beginnings of certain key tropes, such as the social conditions 
of the Egyptian peasantry. 

Cairo Station (1958), featuring Chahine himself in the main role, 
is a landmark realist film. Tamila, the Algerian, made the same year, 
marks a turn toward more explicitly political filmmaking. Banned 
in Algeria, it is a harsh record of a young Algerian woman who 
is captured, tortured, judged, and condemned by the French, and 
makes extensive use of documentary footage. Perhaps Chahine’ s 
most successful realist film is The Earth (1969), which helped to 
establish his international reputation. This film may also be read as 
an explicit political statement— a plea for further land reform under 
the Free Officers regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the wake of the 
Defeat. Chahine ’s eclectic approach to cinema involved the blending 
of many genres and styles, however, and his most explicit film in 
relation to Nasser is the epic Saladin (1963), in which the pan- Ara- 
bist leader is celebrated as a figure in the tradition of the titular Arab 
leader— historically a Kurd— against the Crusaders. Chahine inher- 


ited the project, his first wide-screen and Technicolor work, but was 
clearly committed to it. He incorporates expressionistic touches, such 
as washes of red over shields as a metaphor for bloodshed. A contem- 
porary acknowledgment of Nasser’s achievements was The People 
and the Nile (1968), a Soviet co-production that celebrated the build- 
ing of the Aswan Dam. Even here, Chatline’ s idiosyncratic aesthetic 
prompted dissatisfaction in the governments of both countries. 

By this time, Chahine had briefly abandoned Egypt— at a time 
when, partly as a consequence of Nasser’s nationalization of the 
industry, film funding had become especially difficult to obtain— in 
order to make a musical in Lebanon, The Ring Seller (1966), with 
Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers. His disillusionment with Nass- 
er’s regime is reflected in The Choice (1970) and, especially, in The 
Sparrow (1973), an indictment of Egyptian corruption and lack of 
preparedness for the 1967 war against Israel. The complexity of the 
plot in this film characterizes much of Chahine ’s work— multiple 
plotlines comment on the main action, and are presented in varying 
tones and styles. This hybrid strategy reaches its apogee, perhaps, in 
Alexandria, Why?, and is supplemented by considerable self-reflex- 
ivity in the remaining films in the broadly autobiographical Alexan- 
dria trilogy/quartet: An Egyptian Story (1982), Alexandria, Again 
and Forever (1990), and Alexandria . . . New York (2004). 

Chahine formed his own production company, Misr International 
Films, in 1973, and entered into co-production deals, first with Alge- 
rian television in the 1970s, then, building on his growing reputation 
in that country and his film festival connections with Humbert Bal- 
sam, with France. Adieu Bonaparte (1985), a story advocating toler- 
ance and understanding set during Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, 
is the first of these, and the collapse of the Egyptian industry in the 
early 1990s would only reinforce the perceived need for such trans- 
national cooperation. Nevertheless, this connection has been seen as 
a force dividing Chahine from his Egyptian roots. He continued to in- 
sist that his desire for international acclaim remained secondary to his 
patriotism, as evidenced in the sympathetic and affecting Cairo . . . 
as Told by Chahine (1992). This short film, however, does not shy 
away form depicting scenes of poverty and underdevelopment and 
also records a growing Islamist influence in Egypt. 


This last becomes a major subject in Chahine’s films made during 
the 1990s. Chahine, a Christian Copt by birth, was accused of blas- 
phemy for his The Emigrant (1994), a historical film that retold the 
story of the prophet Joseph. The director appealed to the authority of 
Al-Azhar in Cairo, the center of Sunni Islamic learning, claiming that 
his film was only inspired by the story of Joseph. He was acquitted 
but prepared to attack what he perceived was an increasingly intoler- 
ant Islam. This feeling was reinforced by the multiple stabbing of his 
sometime collaborator, the novelist and screenwriter Naguib Mah- 
fouz, and led to the production of Destiny (1997), set in 12th-century 
Spain, in which the rationalism, tolerance, and openness of Islamic 
civilization under the intellectual auspices of the respected Muslim 
philosopher Averroes/Ibn Rushd is contrasted both with conditions 
in other European Christian kingdoms of the time, and with nascent, 
restrictive Islamist opposition within the contemporary Arab world. 
Destiny includes a scene in which a musician is set upon by joyless 
Islamists in a clear reference to the attack on Mahfouz. The film was 
screened at Cannes, where Chahine was given a lifetime achievement 
award. (He had previously been given one by the Carthage Film 

Chahine’s work acknowledges Egypt’s ancient and colonial pasts, 
as well as its place in the current neoliberal, transnational capitalist 
economy. His own cultural influences draw on many cultures world- 
wide, but especially on American cinema. His pleasure in things 
American, however, faded during the last years of his life. The Other 
(1999) depicts United States-led capitalist exploitation, corruption, 
and arrogance as the flip side of religious intolerance in the Middle 
East, and depicts their alliance against the film’s young Egyptian 
lovers. His contribution to the portmanteau film, 09’ 11 "01 (2002), 
is highly critical of U.S. global influence and attempts to “explain” 
its negative perception within the Arab-Muslim world. Somewhat 
similarly, Alexandria . . . New York contrasts the beloved America 
of Chahine’s youthful years in Pasadena— the America of Gene 
Kelly— with his return to participate in a New York City retrospec- 
tive of his work 50 years later— a visit to the America of George W. 
Bush. Chahine’s films have influenced many, but Yousry Nasrallah 
and Atef Hetata are perhaps the most notable of directors who began 
their careers as his assistants at Misr International Films. 


CHAMOUN, JEAN (1944- ). See MASRI, MAI. 

CHARCOAL BURNER, THE (1972). This first feature directed by 
Mohamed Bouamari is an early example of Algerian cinema’s 
preoccupation with problems facing that country’s rural population 
during the postindependence period. The Charcoal Burner concerns 
a former revolutionary combatant who must cope with the obsoles- 
cence of his livelihood— the making of charcoal— when natural gas 
lines are built throughout the countryside. Compelled to seek work 
in an urban center, he faces universal rejection and, in turn, comes 
to realize the contemporary dissolution of revolutionary solidar- 
ity— which he had idealized during the anticolonial struggle— under 
the new, postwar administration. At the same time, he is unable to 
accept the fact that his wife is able to find (cheap) factory work, 
which has been made widely available to women under neocolo- 
nial conditions, citing religious reasons for his disapproval. The 
Charcoal Burner was awarded the Silver Tanit at Carthage, and 
the Georges Sadoul Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Bouamari 
showed the film throughout Algeria by transporting it in a “cine- 
bus” to remote areas, where screenings were often accompanied by 
lively discussions. 

CHAREF, MEHDI (1952- ). Beur filmmaker Charef emigrated with 
his family to France at the age of 10. He was raised in the poor shanty- 
towns ( bidonvilles ) of Paris, trained as a mechanic, then worked in 
a factory until the publication of his first novel. Tea in the Harem of 
Archimedes in 1983. Following its favorable critical reception, Cha- 
ref directed a cinematic adaptation. Tea in the Harem , in 1985. The 
story is an autobiographical account of the social marginalization and 
delinquency of two adolescent males living in a dilapidated Parisian 
housing project, who, finding themselves unemployed after leaving 
school, take up a seemingly inescapable life of petty crime. Charef’ s 
subsequent Miss Mona (1987) is set in the slums of Paris, where the 
titular protagonist, an aging drag queen unable to afford a sex-change 
operation, takes advantage of an illegal North African immigrant des- 
perate to buy his immigration papers by convincing him to become a 
prostitute, in turn becoming his pimp and exploiting his earnings for 
the eventual surgery. 


In Daughter ofKeltoum (2001), shot in Tunisia but set in Algeria, 
Charef shifts focus to the thematic of return, examining the patriar- 
chal aspects of Kabyle culture through the eyes of a young Swiss 
woman of Algerian parentage. Rallia, abandoned in infancy by her 
mother and raised by a foster family in Switzerland, returns by bus 
to her birthplace, an isolated and impoverished Berber mountain vil- 
lage largely depleted of its male population, in search of her mother 
and the reason for her abandonment. In the course of her journey, in 
which she is joined by a psychologically disturbed, eccentric woman 
from the village claiming to be her aunt, she must fend off local male 
disapproval and violence, including rape. When the two women 
arrive at an expensive hotel in which an upwardly mobile woman, 
purportedly Rallia’ s mother, has been staying, the truth is revealed: 
the eccentric woman is in fact her mother, and the other woman, her 
aunt. Charef followed up Daughter with Summer of ’62 (2007), a re- 
alist portrait of 1962 Algeria through the eyes of an 1 1-year-old boy, 
which integrates quotidian material depicting the boy’s friendships 
with French schoolmates who must leave the country in the throes of 
anticolonial revolution. 

CHIBANE, MALIK (1964- ). Born in France to an Algerian Kabyle 
family, beur filmmaker Chibane trained as an electronics engineer, 
then in 1985 received additional training in stage lighting that af- 
forded him work at the Theatre de la Porte Saint-Martin. That same 
year, he and three friends founded IDRISS, an organization that spon- 
sors leisure and educational activities, including video workshops, as 
well as community centers for the unemployed. In 1993, Chibane 
scripted his first fictional feature. Hexagon , about his class and ethnic 
experience as a North African immigrant in France (a beur). Shot in 
the Parisian suburb of Goussainville, it depicts banlieue life through 
a fragmented, episodic narrative that interweaves a variety of char- 
acter perspectives drawn principally from the beur community. The 
film exposes the obstacles facing beurs who seek integration into 
French culture and society, and also presents the beur community as 
central to any conceptualization of contemporary French nationhood. 
The film was modestly financed through IDRISS and shot in 16mm, 
with much of the cast working without pay. After some support from 


various institutions, the film was transferred to 35mm and released in 
theaters in 1994 to critical and popular acclaim. 

Themes of beur experience have continued throughout Chibane’s 
work. For instance his Sweet France (1995), which he wrote as well 
as directed, and which is named after a popular song, is a portrait 
of four young beurs living in a housing project in the Saint-Denis 
district of Paris. One of them, Jean-Luc, uses money acquired from a 
jewelry heist to open a legal practice in a bar managed by his friend, 
Moussa. Two others, Farida and Souad, are beset with familial and 
work problems as well as sisterly conflict: whereas Souad rebels 
from conservative gender norms by wearing her hair short and ob- 
sessing over her appearance, Farida practices Muslim religious ritual 
and wears a headscarf ( hijab ). The film follows these four characters 
as they negotiate not only racism in traditional French society, but 
also generational and peer pressures from parents and friends, to try 
to retain varying aspects of North African culture, and to resist those 
of the French. 

Similarly, in Chibane’s later Neighbors (2005), the French title of 
which parodies the classic French New Wave farce. Cousin, Cousine 
(Jean Charles Tacchella, 1975), a Black African hip-hop artist from 
the recently privatized Mozart Estate housing project in Paris is con- 
fronted with limitations to his cultural expression from his agent, a 
working-class beur who demands from him a new set of rap lyrics 
within a mere seven days. The film takes the form of a fable, as the 
artist surreptitiously aggravates preexisting conflicts between his 
banlieue neighbors, each of whom represents a particular postco- 
lonial stereotype (Mizrahi-Jewish Tunisians longing for home, a 
Polish-Jewish woman married to a philandering Palestinian man, 
an assimilationist Algerian desiring a Muslim burial, an Algerian ex- 
con superintendent, an oversexed, alcoholic young French woman, 
and an elderly Black African woman who always falls asleep). The 
artist barely comes up with the lyrics, which he bases on the various 
conflicts and finally paints across the walls of his apartment as he 
abandons it to the embarrassed discovery of his neighbors. 

1933). Albert Samama Chikly, a Jewish Tunisian, is known as the 


founder of Tunisian cinema, and was one of the first indigenous Af- 
rican filmmakers. Already an importer of modem novelties (bicycles, 
radios, x-ray machines), in 1897 Chikly organized the country’s first 
screenings of Lumiere films in a Tunis shop, aided by a photographer 
named Soler. He proceeded to make newsreels in both Tunisia and 
France, filming Tunis from a hot-air balloon in 1908 and shooting 
combat footage for the French army at Verdun during World War I. 
His work was recognized subsequently by the Bey of Tunis, who pro- 
vided support for Chikly ’s production of actualite films documenting 
Tunisian everyday culture and society. Chikly also directed the first 
Tunisian fiction film, a short entitled Zohra (1922), and then the first 
Tunisian feature. The Girl from Carthage (1924), starring his daugh- 
ter, Hayde, who continued acting in Tunisian films into the 1990s. 

CHILDREN OF HEAVEN (1979). One of the most successful Ira- 
nian films in the West, Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven received 
an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film. It opens with 
eight-year-old Ali losing his younger sister Zahra’s newly repaired 
shoes. To avoid admitting this loss to his father, Ali and Zahra share 
a pair of sneakers, and much of the film revolves around their at- 
tempts to manage their exchange without being late for school. The 
importance of shoes is emphasized when hundreds are depicted lined 
up outside a mosque, where the children’s father works serving tea, 
while their owners pray inside. Scenes in which the camera often 
focuses on the feet of the children running through the often cramped 
streets of poor, southern Tehran strikingly contrast a sequence set in 
the upscale, northern part of the city, where Ali proves much more 
capable than his father of communicating with the wealthy, coming 
to entertain a privileged boy while his father sprays trees in a spa- 
cious garden. Finally, Ali enters a race in which third prize is a pair 
of shoes, but ends up disappointed when he comes in first. Children 
of Heaven is a melodrama, and Majidi uses slow-motion and emotive 
music, among other devices, to ensure audience empathy with his 
young characters. The film’s English title substitutes “Heaven” for 
“Sky,” a more literal translation from the Persian. 

CHOUIKH, MOHAMED (1943- ). The husband of director Yamina 
Bachir-Chouikh, Mohamed Chouikh began his film career as an 

chraibi, saAd • 91 

actor in The Wind of the Aures (Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, 
1966). After working for the Algerian television company, Ra- 
diodiffusion Television Algerienne, he began directing a series of 
films in Algeria that examine religious and tribal obstacles to the 
country A postindependence social development, utilizing techniques 
of cinematic abstraction. The Citadel (1988) confronts the Islamic 
practice of polygamy through a forbidden love story involving a rural 
village community that is riven along class and gender lines when 
a young man from a wealthy family falls in love with a cobbler’s 
daughter. Chouikh’s subsequent Youssef. The Legend of the Seventh 
Sleeper (1993) evokes Algerian disillusion following the assassina- 
tion in 1992 of President Mohamed Boudiaf. Recalling aspects of 
The Charcoal Burner (Mohamed Bouamari, 1972), it follows an 
escaped psychiatric patient who, believing he is still living in colo- 
nial Algeria of the 1960s, travels the country in search of the ideals 
for which he and his compatriots had struggled during the war of 

The Desert Ark (1997), another forbidden love story, this time 
involving two clans in a desert community near Aziz, is a parable 
that challenges ethnic division and separatism by underscoring their 
relationship to patriarchal oppression and conditions of exile, thus 
standing as a metaphor for contemporary Algeria. The film inter- 
weaves vivid, colorful costuming with a realism that resists ori- 
entalist exoticism by depicting a populated and enculturated rather 
than empty, barren desert. Hamlet of Women (2005), Chouikh’s most 
recent film to date, joins an array of North African films (A Wife for 
My Son [Ali Ghalem, 1982]; The Sleeping Child [Yasmine Kassari, 
2004]) that focus on the problem of rural women left behind to fend 
for themselves once their brothers, husbands, and fathers are com- 
pelled to seek work in distant urban factories. Here, humor is utilized 
to lighten as well as satirize the problem, as the abandoned female 
characters are portrayed learning how to defend themselves, and 
eventually achieving raised gender consciousness, when faced with 
attacks by nearby guerrilla fighters positioned as terrorists. 

CHRAIBI, SAAD (1952- ). Chraibi has worked as a writer, producer, 
and director since the late 1970s. He founded the cinema club A1 
Azaim in Casablanca and directed it from 1973 to 1983. His directorial 


credits include Women . . . and Women (1998), one of Morocco’s first 
features to treat the oppression of professional, upwardly mobile, and 
publicly visible women. His Thirst (2000) depicts Morocco during 
the colonial era and is noteworthy for its humanizing rendition of the 
colonist. Jawhara: Girl of the Prison (2003), the story of a young 
girl raised in the prison where her mother was jailed and tortured for 
membership in a Marxist theater troupe, is set in the 1960s during 
Morocco’s “Years of Lead,” when students, activists, and union 
leaders were jailed and tortured as alleged threats to the state. 


first feature is based on the filmmaker’s return to Palestine after the 
Oslo Accords. A series of vignettes designed to represent the mar- 
ginalization of Palestinians are loosely organized into three sections: 
in Nazareth, two men have set up a souvenir shop in anticipation of 
a post-Oslo tourism boom that doesn’t materialize; ES, played by 
Suleiman, is silenced at a conference on Palestinian film due to a 
malfunctioning microphone; an Arab woman faces discriminatory 
obstacles as she tries to rent an apartment in Israel. The film estab- 
lished Suleiman’s exilic aesthetics of communication breakdown: the 
disjointed story of a Palestinian hero who faces the impossible task 
of representing his nation’s collective trauma, woven into a story 
comprised of fleeting moments with no clear beginning, middle, or 
end that represents the experience of “Palestinianness.” Chronicle is 
about the process of self-searching through the passive, silent ES, a 
spectator of his own life— a theme that appears in Suleiman’s sub- 
sequent films, especially Divine Intervention (2002). The film was 
the first for which an Arab filmmaker successfully lobbied the Israeli 
state for funds. 

Lakhdar-Hamina’s most renowned film makes innovative use of 
color, wide-screen, and stereophonic sound to construct an epic por- 
trait of Algeria’s struggle for independence from French colonial 
rule. The six-part, three-hour film opens in 1939 with a rural farmer 
deciding, against protestations from his neighbors, to migrate from 
his drought-stricken village to the city. Cinematically riveting desert 
landscape shots punctuate Ahmed’s difficult journey, but upon his ar- 


rival, he is drafted immediately into the Allied army and sent to fight 
in Europe. Upon his return, Ahmed takes up the cause of Algerian 
independence and joins the resistance; the rest of the film, which con- 
cludes in 1954, portrays his actions, and those of his compatriots, as 
they struggle and die for independence, and transmit their aspirations 
to the younger generation. 

Although Ahmed stands as the film’s protagonal figure, his per- 
spective is interwoven throughout with that of a prophetic madman 
(Lakhdar-Hamina), who, like Ahmed, will die on the eve of revolu- 
tion, and whose early, eccentric rants will appear progressively sane 
and objective in the context of approaching liberation. Chronicle’s 
epic narrative is underscored by character typage, which emphasizes 
the anticolonial struggle’s historical conditions and protracted qual- 
ity, not least with respect to the social divisions predating it that 
would continue to affect its outcome and aftermath. The film is 
noteworthy for its skillful deployment of Soviet filmmaking tech- 
niques to construct cinematic metaphors and intertextual references. 
Among many memorable sequences is the attack by horsemen in the 
town square, in which montage, typage, and synecdoche produce a 
dynamic interpretation of the history of colonial repression and the 
stakes of anticolonial revolt. 

Chronicle was awarded the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Fes- 
tival in 1975, which helped facilitate new international awareness 
of Lakhdar-Hamina in particular and Algerian cinema in general. 
However, insofar as this expensive film was funded by the Office 
national pour le commerce et l’industrie cinematographiques, 
with which Lakhdar-Hamina was already heavily involved, it was 
heavily criticized by Algerians for the apparently corrupt allocation it 
entailed of already limited state funds. Lakhdar-Hamina has nonethe- 
less defended Chronicle ’ s extravagance as necessary to the properly 
poetic rendering of his personal-autobiographical vision. 


Lounded by Rashid Masharawi in 1996 in Ramallah, the Center 
aims to promote Palestinian film production and distribution and 
provide a supportive environment for local filmmakers. The Center 
houses a production room, gallery, and meeting space, and offers 
artists an address for correspondence. It runs workshops and training 


sessions for aspiring Palestinian filmmakers, including courses in 
directing, acting, lighting, sound, make-up, costume design, and art 
direction. The Center also assists in career development by placing 
aspiring professionals in production sets in the West Bank and the 
Gaza Strip. Created to tackle issues particular to filmmaking in the 
Occupied Palestinian Territories (such as a lack of funds, difficulty 
of movement and shooting on location), it reflects Masharawi’s own 
experience of having been a production designer for Wedding in 
Galilee (Michel Khleifi, 1987) and the director of Curfew (1993). 
(The Center has been criticized by Palestinians for being too com- 
mercially driven and auteurist rather than challenging the nascent 
film industry to be more cooperative.) 

In 1997, the Center established the Mobile Cinema, a traveling 
film festival targeting populations least likely to have access to cin- 
ema. Mobile Cinema began by screening films in schools, cultural 
centers, and sports centers across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 
eventually expanded into refugee camps and remote rural villages. 
Today it comprises portable video, 35mm and 16mm film projectors, 
cinema screens, sound systems, and splicing tables, offering opportu- 
nities to marginalized communities to experience quality cinema— as 
depicted in Masharawi’s Ticket to Jerusalem (2002). 

CIRCLE, THE (2000). Jafar Panahi’s third feature. The Circle, is 
both a powerful critique of the circles of power that entrap Iranian 
women— and by implication most humans — and a formal tour de 
force that incorporates the metaphor of the circle in a range of ways. 
Highly successful in European film festivals and gaining limited 
distribution in the West, it remains banned in Iran. Beginning with 
the birth of a girl when a boy was expected (which causes consider- 
able grief to the grandmother), The Circle follows a series of women, 
whose dialects reveal to Persian speakers that they come from differ- 
ent parts of the country, as they struggle to achieve various goals in 
the city. In an attempt to generalize or allegorize their plight, Panahi, 
and scriptwriter Kambozia Partovi ( Golnar , 1988; Transit Cafe, 
2005), do not always make clear who the women are or what they are 
doing; however, a first group of three seem to have been recently re- 
leased from prison, one (well-known actress Fereshteh Sadr-Orafai, 
one of two professionals in the cast) seeks an abortion, while another 


tries to abandon her child where she will be looked after properly. 
The final woman to take center screen is a prostitute who, despite 
having been caught in a police sting, nevertheless carries about her 
a self-assurance missing from the other women; in the climax to a 
trope that has run throughout the film, she is finally able to light a 
cigarette while her male captors are distracted, a privilege that has 
proven consistently unattainable for the others. 

The end of the film depicts the various characters together in a cir- 
cular prison cell. As the camera completes its almost 360-degree pan, 
it reveals the grill through which a guard calls the name of the woman 
who gave birth at the beginning of the film— apparently that birth 
also took place in jail. The revealed circular narrative is matched 
by a considerable number of circular buildings and other sites (for 
example, the hospital at the start, the bus station, the location of a 
cinema) as well as camera movements— an elaboration of Panahi’s 
fondness for plan-sequence shooting. 

CLOSED DOORS, THE (1999). Directed by Youssef Chahine’s 

protege, Atef Hetata (also the son of Egyptian feminist, Nawal 
El-Saadawi), this postmelodrama follows the story of Mohamed 
(“Hamada”) Hussein, an urban, working-class, sexually confused 
teenager, who becomes involved with a militant Islamist sect when 
his mother, Fatma, a divorcee now working as a maid to pay his 
tuition, befriends Zeinab, a neighbor and occasional prostitute. 
Hamada’ s cruel father has sent his other son, Salah, to fight (and die) 
in the Iran-Iraq War, and Fatma is loathe for Hamada to suffer the 
same fate. Hamada soon finds himself torn between Islam and petty 
crime when, after being expelled from school by a strict teacher, 
Mansour, for bad grades and presumed insubordination, he develops 
a close friendship with Awadine, a young delinquent. His religious 
involvement deepens, however, as Fatma becomes interested in 
another man, whereupon Hamada displays increasingly oppressive 
behavior toward her and Zeinab, eventually stabbing Fatma and her 
male lover to death when he finds them at home in bed together. 
The Closed Doors was received with much controversy in the Arab- 
Muslim world for its decontextualized, psychological analysis of the 
rise of political Islam, in this respect starkly contrasting cinematic 
analyses of the same issue by Hetata’ s renowned mentor as well as by 

96 • CLOSE-UP 

numerous other Middle Eastern directors, including Nouri Bouzid 
and Yamina Bachir-Chouikh, who remain critical of orientalist 
approaches to the topic. 

CLOSE-UP (1990). This Iranian film is an account of poor, casually 
employed printer Ali Sabzian’s impersonation of his hero Mohsen 
Makhmalbaf. Pretending that he would use them in a film, Sabzian 
borrowed money from a family but was arrested after they became 
suspicious. Reading about the events in a magazine, Abbas Kiar- 
ostami went to see Sabzian in jail and asked if he would cooperate 
in a film about the events. Hence scenes in Close-Up , which take 
place prior to the interview with Sabzian, are fictional recreations 
of his deception and its discovery. To these scenes Kiarostami adds 
broadly documentary, although heavily manipulated, footage, some 
of it shot at the subsequent trial. He also arranges for Makhmalbaf to 
meet Sabzian after his release and to accompany him to make peace 
with the family. Thus, Close-Up is a tapestry of more and less fic- 
tionalized episodes in the recreation— and creation— of a true story. 
Careful attention at the beginning of the film to peripheral characters, 
and an elaborately constructed sound design at its end that imitates 
the loss of sound, further complicate the underlying theme of search- 
ing for and questioning identity. 

COHEN, ELI (1940- ). This actor and filmmaker of the Young Is- 
raeli Cinema has worked twice with Gila Almagor, directing her 
renowned autobiographical adaptations, Summer of Aviya (1988) 
and Under the Dornirn Tree (1995), and once with Juliano Mer in 
the latter. Cohen directed the Canadian dialogue film The Quarrel 
(1991), which conservatively allegorizes the Holocaust to conditions 
in both Palestine-Israel and Francophone Quebec. The antimilitarist 
war film, Richochets (1986), set just prior to the 1982 Israeli with- 
drawal from Lebanon, presents an ethical inquiry into the common 
practice of military attacks on occupied civilians, in the form of a 
circular narrative of seemingly undirected violence. Cohen’s most 
recent film, Altalena (2008), dramatizes the tragedy of the titular ship 
on which more than 900 Holocaust survivors en route to Palestine 
were disallowed entry, and many killed, due to internecine rivalry 
between Zionist factions concerning a stockpile of weapons the ship 


was known to be smuggling for the right-wing Jewish paramilitary 
group, Irgun. 

COLONIALISM. This Western European practice of imperial con- 
quest began as early as the 15th century, at the moment marking, 
and spanning, the period of historical transition there from agrar- 
ian-mercantile systems to capitalism. Colonialism entails the take- 
over of a foreign region by military means, and the establishment 
there of administrative structures and institutions meant to ensure 
the colonizer’s control, in some instances through violence, and in 
others, through orientalist social and cultural policies— but in all 
cases with the intention of removing obstacles to the exploitation of 
local resources and labor, and the transportation of raw materials and 
goods to the colonizing “mother-country.” Genocide and systems of 
slavery as practiced by the earliest explorers (particularly in Africa 
and the Americas) were eventually largely replaced by various de- 
grees of exploitation of the labor potential of indigenous populations. 
Countless rural peasant societies in Asia, Africa, South America, and 
Oceana were dismantled by colonial decimation of their agricultural 
systems and traditional forms of governance, so that emigration to 
urban centers became commonplace, as historic mercantile cities 
became industrial centers comprised of impoverished, laboring un- 
derclasses, and most tributary systems became feudalized. However, 
major wealth-producing industrial processes continued to be based in 
the colonizing countries, ensuring conditions of underdevelopment in 
the colonized. 

During the 20th century, colonialism gave way to neocolonialism, 
as many countries achieved independence. Transnational institu- 
tions of trade, finance, and law, rather than the institutional pres- 
ence of colonial administrative agencies, now worked to continue 
exploitation of the now-independent countries of what had come to 
be known as the “Third World.” In the Middle East, this structural 
shift occurred following World War II, when a wave of anticolonial 
struggles across the region succeeded in securing sovereignty for all 
nations but Palestine, Kurdistan, and Western Sahara. 

These struggles and the conditions prompting them are the 
subject— and enabling conditions — of countless Middle Eastern 
films. Although few Palestinian films deal specifically with British 


Mandate Palestine or with Greater Palestine under Ottoman rule, for 
instance, a large majority approach the Israeli Occupation as a form 
of colonialism, most noteworthy those of the Palestinian Revolu- 
tion Cinema and, more recently, films that depict the Intifadas as 
anticolonial struggles. By contrast, Israeli prestate cinema depicted 
colonialism favorably, as necessary and justified, in social realist 
documentaries and short pastoral fictions meant to raise money for 
the Zionist enterprise. 

Similarly, throughout the colonial Maghreb, orientalist films 
made by — and aimed at— the settler community and their French 
benefactors in Morocco and Algeria dominated the cinematic sphere 
until independence. The situation was similar in Tunisia, although an 
early, amateur indigenous cinema developed alongside— and often 
at cross-purposes to— colonial efforts, and burgeoned after indepen- 
dence. In Algeria, no indigenous films were made at all until after 
independence. At that time, and until the political and economic 
changes brought about under neocolonialism, Maghrebi cinemas 
offered varied analyses and examinations of colonial rule and its 
effects. The best-known of these films are undoubtedly those made 
in Algeria immediately after independence, many by filmmakers 
who had served with the Front de Liberation Nationale or been 
otherwise engaged in the liberation struggle. Of particular note are 
Dawn of the Damned (Ahmed Rachedi, 1965), Wind of the Aures 
(Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, 1966), The Opium and the Baton 
(Rachedi, 1969), The Charcoal Burner (Mohamed Bouamari, 
1972), and Chronicle of the Years of Embers (Lakhdar-Hamina, 

Industry cinemas in postcolonial Egypt, prerevolutionary Iran 
(Abdolhossein Sepanta; Esmail Kushan), and, before Ba‘th nation- 
alization, Iraq have, on the other hand, borne the traces of colonial- 
ism, both institutionally and in terms of film content, whereupon 
some directors have sought work outside those commercial matrices, 
for example Tawfik Saleh, who directed films in both Syria and Iraq, 
and Salah Abu Seif, who also directed in Iraq. Similarly, Rashid 
Masharawi left the Israeli film industry to direct and produce films 
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Lebanon, direct treat- 
ment of the colonial French Mandate period remains surprisingly 
absent from the cinematic record. Passing references are made to it in 

COMEDY • 99 

some films, such as Out of Life (Maroun Baghdadi, 1990) and West 
Beirut (Ziad Doueiri, 1999), but critiques of neocolonialist oriental- 
ism by avant-garde filmmakers offer the most salient analyses. 

The Ottoman imperial past still finds some reflection in Turkish 
public discourse, which directs claims toward the Balkans and Middle 
East (as critiqued in the Syrian film A Land for a Stranger [Samir 
Zikra, 1998]). Although Turkey has never formally been colonized — 
only occupied briefly following a Western invasion during and after 
World War I— its concomitant struggles vis-a-vis Westernization in 
culture and the arts have occasionally resulted in forms of indirect, 
cultural colonization on behalf of the West. Republican reformers, 
for instance, proposed a cultural modernization project that would 
also install Western cultural practices in the country (opera, ballet). 
The success of that project in constructing a Western cultural milieu in 
Turkey is questionable, but struggles around it continue, as evidenced 
within contemporary debates over Americanization and Europeaniza- 
tion, including Turkey’s relationship to the European Union. Finally, 
the role of exilic and diasporic filmmaking in this area must be 
acknowledged as having addressed critically the social and cinematic 
developments wrought by transnationalism, as it affects Middle East- 
erners on an international scale. Exemplary is beur cinema in France 
and Belgium, and films of the Palestinian diaspora in Western Europe 
and the United States. See also ALEXANDRIA AUTOBIOGRAPHI- 

COMEDY. The drama of a happy ending characterized by humor, 
lightheartedness, and usually romance is a staple genre of industry 
cinema across the Middle East. From the classical Egyptian film 
Everything Is Fine (Niazi Mustafa, 1938), a variation on The Prince 
and the Pauper , and its contemporary allegorization, A Citizen, a 
Detective, and a 77n'e/(Daoud Abdel Sayed, 2001), a generic hybrid 
of melodrama, comedy, and the musical, to bourekas films in Israel 
and sex comedies in Turkey (often starring Aydemir Akbas), Mid- 
dle Eastern comedies often function as both escapist entertainment 
and moral illustration for audiences whose everyday lives are fre- 
quently disrupted by war, military invasion and occupation, political 
oppression, and economic deprivation. For this reason. Middle East- 
ern comedies may project dark, absurdist, sardonic, even stoic forms 

100 • COMEDY 

of humor, or, conversely, over-the-top kitsch and camp. Examples of 
the latter tendency, most common to industry fare, include the roman- 
tic and musical comedies of Mohamed Selmane, Nadine Labaki, 
and Josef Fares in Lebanon, of Togo Mizrahi, Anwar Wagdi (in 
both cases in the “Layla” films among others), Niazi Mustafa, Fatin 
Abdel-Wahab, Nader Galal, and Salah Abu Seif in Egypt, of Orhan 
Aksoy, Nejat Saydam, Ulkii Erakalin, and Ertem Egilmez in Tur- 
key, of Avanes Ohanian, Bahman Farmanara, and Kamal Tabrizi 
in Iran, and of Mohammed Shukri and Youssef Gergis in Iraq; and 
the sex farces and national satires of Uri Zohar in Israel. Such popular 
comedies are somewhat less likely to be available in subtitled versions 
for Western audiences who do not speak the original language, since 
they frequently refer to specific, quite local morals and mores and 
include verbal quips that are lost in translation. 

In addition to its common generic manifestation, comedy is also 
deployed in Middle Eastern auteur cinema as a rhetorical device of 
social critique. Films of this kind contain plot conflicts that do not 
usually resolve happily, if at all, and may project a subtle or refined 
humor that, again, does not always translate cross-culturally; never- 
theless, they are more apt to be marketed to international audiences. 
Examples include the Egyptian Alexandria, Why? (Youssef Cha- 
hine, 1978); the Iranian The Tenants (Dariush Mehrjui, 1985), 
Turtles Can Fly (Bahman Qobadi, 2004), and Offside (Jafar Pa- 
nahi, 2006), actually marketed internationally as a comedy; numer- 
ous Palestinian films, including Haifa (Rashid Masharawi, 1996), 
Ford Transit (Hany Abu-Assad, 2002), and Divine Intervention 
(Elia Suleiman, 2002); the Syrian Nights of the Jackal (Abdul- 
latif Abdul-Hamid, 1989); the Moroccan Looking for the Hus- 
band of My Wife (Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, 1993), She Is 
Diabetic and Hypertensive and She Refuses to Die (Hakim Noury, 
2000), The Pal (Hassan Benjelloun, 2002), and The Bandits (Sai'd 
Naciri, 2003); the Tunisian The Prince (Mohamed Zran, 2004); 
the Algerian Hassan, Terrorist (Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, 
1967); the Lebanese short. After Shave (Hany Tamba, 2005); and 
the Israeli Fictitious Marriage (Haim Bouzaglo, 1988) and James’ 
Journey to Jerusalem (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, 2003). See also 

CURFEW • 101 

COW, THE (1969). Dariush Mehrjui’s second feature is considered 
the landmark film of the Iranian New Wave. Adapted from a story 
by important Iranian novelist Gholamhossein Saedi, the film tells 
the tale of a man (Ezzatollah Entezami) so obsessed by his cow that 
he is unable to accept its death and gradually takes on the animal’s 
identity. Although The Cow was funded by the Ministry of Culture 
and Arts, its social realist depiction of rural poverty and portrayal of 
bizarre characters constantly anxious about attack by a mysterious 
enemy provoked its banning by the same organization. However, its 
success at the Venice Film Festival led to limited screenings in Iran 
with an added disclaimer that the events depicted took place before 
the Shah’s modernizing rule. The Cow’s questioning of national 
identity, especially the official version propagated by the Pahlavi 
regime, foregrounds two key aspects of Iranian cinema that have only 
grown in significance during its postrevolutionary phase: ambiguous 
government support/obstruction and the importance of international 
film festivals. 

CRY NO MORE (2003). Winner of international film festival awards, 
Nejjar Narjiss’s first feature is set in a Berber village in rural Mo- 
rocco populated only by prostitutes. Mina, imprisoned for 25 years, 
returns to introduce them to rug-weaving to save them from social 
ostracization. Nejjar was publicly criticized by the women who acted 
in the film for allegedly not having informed them of its subject mat- 
ter, thus damaging their reputations. The Ministry of Communication 
nonetheless declined to remove the film from Moroccan screens. 

CURFEW (1993). Documentary and fiction are characteristically 
blurred in this Palestinian cinematic portrait, co-produced by Hany 
Abu-Assad with support from Dutch and German television, of a day 
in the life of a Gazan family confined by the Israel Defense Forces 
(IDF) to its ramshackle home in the Al-Shati refugee camp during 
the First Intifada. Ironically mirroring its subject. Curfew , the first 
Palestinian feature made by a director from Gaza, was shot largely 
in Israel and the West Bank due to an IDF military siege in Gaza at 
the time. Salim Dau ( Avanti Popolo ; James’ Journey to Jerusalem) 
plays Abu Raji, whose attempts to appreciate his son’s long-awaited 

102 • DATE WINE 

correspondence from abroad are constantly interrupted by the ex- 
tenuating circumstances of curfew. Director Rashid Masharawi, 
himself a refugee, filmed Curfew’s primarily interior scenes using 
extended long takes, deep muted colors, and dim lighting to convey 
the claustrophobia, malaise, and internecine disputes that character- 
ize everyday Palestinian life under Israeli Occupation. 

- D - 

DATE WINE (1998). Produced by Youssef Chahine’s Misr Interna- 
tional Films and told initially from the perspective of an African for- 
mer slave, this neo-orientalist fable directed by Radwan El-Kashef, 
previously an assistant to Chahine, tells the story of a rural village 
in the Egyptian desert whose men are coerced by an anonymous 
migrant labor trafficker into leaving home for work and the promise 
of riches. Only two men remain: late-adolescent Ahmed and the 
village elder, known as “Grandfather.” While the women restlessly 
await their husbands, brothers, uncles, cousins, and fathers, Ahmed 
practices climbing the tallest date palm tree in the village, and fends 
off various women longing for male companionship— until he is no 
longer able to resist their advances. 

Eventually, the situation becomes dire, as men from neighboring 
villages begin to steal from and threaten to overtake the “village of 
women.” One young woman, desperately concerned that her hus- 
band is no longer alive, commits suicide by setting herself on fire in 
front of those men and the entire village. Hence, Grandfather leaves 
in search of the departed men-folk. Upon their subsequent return, 
they relate stories of strenuous labor and the torturous deaths of 
many brethren. Despite and perhaps because of the attention given 
them by the welcoming women, however, the men begin to express 
concern that the women have been unfaithful, whether deliberately 
or by force, and set about testing Ahmed’s honor by persuading 
him to climb the tall tree at night while, unbeknownst to him, they 
chop it down. The film ends as Salma, Ahmed’s central love interest 
(Sherihan), cries desperately as he rides off on an Arabian horse into 
a white ghostlike void. The ambiguity of the ending suggests that the 
former slave, whose perspective frames the story, has been convey- 


ing it to a young man making a pilgrimage to the now-abandoned 
village, possibly one of Ahmed’s sons. 

The film has been read as an allegory for contemporary Egyptian 
men seeking work in the oil-rich Gulf states. El-Kashef himself 
was from rural Upper Egypt. Date Wine remains the best-known 
of his films in a career cut short by his early death in 2002, at the 
age of 48. 

DAWN OF THE DAMNED, THE (1965). Inspired by the Algerian 
revolution, this film marks Ahmed Rachedi’s directorial homage to 
liberated Algeria and all those who struggled for its independence. 
As it depicts a group of young people researching African coloniza- 
tion, the film reveals its intention to position the anticolonial struggle 
alongside slavery and other acts of domination as instances of man’s 
proverbial inhumanity to man. The Dawn of the Damned was scripted 
by activist and former Front de Liberation Nationale director Rene 
Vautier and includes commentaries by Mouloud Mammeri that are 
recited by Charles Denner, whose voice serves to humanize the im- 
posing historical images of death, famine, and torture selected from 
a collection of newsreels shot by the Cinema Service of the French 
army, as well as in film clips from the Russian State Institute of Cin- 
ematography (VGIK), and other documents and archival material. 

DAYS OF GLORY (2006). Days of Glory depicts the neglected story 
of North African troops who volunteered or were conscripted to fight 
in the Gaullist army alongside American and British forces during 
World War II. Beur filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb follows several 
North Africans who enlist in 1943, and fight with courage and perse- 
verance against a backdrop of indignities: French soldiers are given 
better food, time for leave, and promotions, while African soldiers 
are sent on the most dangerous missions. Honored at the Cannes 
Film Festival with the Chalais Prize and the Best Actor (ensemble) 
Award, Days of Glory offers emotional involvement and visual ef- 
fects in the tradition of the Hollywood war genre, portraying Arab 
casualties as a historically overlooked sacrifice for Europe. In this 
respect, it differs both thematically and structurally from another, 
lesser-known film on the same general subject, Camp de Thiaroye 
(Ousmane Sembene, 1987), which offers a more materialist analysis. 

1 04 • DEFEAT, THE 

Days of Glory provoked vigorous debate in France, rallying support 
for increasing the pensions of 80,000 veterans and war widows, and 
for securing full and equal treatment and benefits for soldiers in the 
French military, regardless of birthplace. 

DEFEAT, THE. This phrase is used commonly to describe the failure 
of the combined Arab forces of Egypt and Syria in the Six-Day War 
against Israel of June 1967. At that time, with the Egyptian army 
gathering in the Sinai in response to perceived threats from Israel, 
Israel launched an anticipatory strike against Egypt in an attempt 
to regain access to the Egyptian-controlled Straits of Tiran, which 
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser had closed to Israeli ship- 
ping after he received a false report from the Soviet Union stating that 
Israel was planning to attack Syria, with which Egypt had a defense 
pact. Israel’s apparently defensive campaign quickly developed into 
an expansionist operation. More than the loss of a brief, if destruc- 
tive, military conflict, however, the Defeat signaled the beginning 
to an end of an era of enthusiasm and hope for a pan-Arab future 
fostered by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Following the 
Six-Day War, which resulted in the Israeli Occupation of Pales- 
tinian territories formerly controlled by Jordan and Egypt since 
1948, widespread confidence was lost in the military and political 
capacity of Nasser’s Free Officers regime, already subject to internal 
criticism for corruption and to external criticism (from the West) for 
suppression of dissent and (from the Arab Left) for disorganization 
and quixotism. 

Whereas many in the Arab world were profoundly discouraged 
by the Defeat, others considered it an opportunity for social, intel- 
lectual, and artistic reevaluation of regional struggles for liberation 
and independence, often expressed in more realist aesthetics and 
exemplified by Nouri Bouzid’s 1988 essay on “Defeat-conscious” 
cinema. Numerous filmmakers came to direct works offering serious, 
constructive analysis of the Defeat and events leading up to it. Egyp- 
tian cinema engaged the issue — often in conjunction with a critical 
reappraisal of Nasserism— in a number of works including One and 
Five (Noshi Iskandar, 1969), an animation trilogy, and The Spar- 
row (Youssef Chahine, 1973), a revisionist musical set during the 
crisis but released on the brink of the Yom Kippur-Ramadan War, in 


which the Arab states may be said to have again been defeated, but 
much less conclusively, by Israel. Egyptian filmmaker Tawfik Saleh 
directed the Syrian production The Dupes (1973), a timely critique 
of the uneven support lent the Palestinian struggle by the Arab states, 
and Syrian director Samir Zikra made The Half-Meter Incident 
(1981), a satirical ode to pan-Arabism set on the brink of the war, 
but released in the wake of Egypt’s 1979 rapprochement with the 
West under Anwar Sadat. The Israeli war fi I m A vanti Popolo (Rafi 
Bukai, 1986) looks sardonically, if ultimately disparagingly, through 
the eyes of Egyptian soldiers at the absurdity of the war. 

DEMIRKUBUZ, ZEKI (1964- ). A communication studies gradu- 
ate, born in Isparta, Turkey, Demirkubuz began his career as an 
assistant to Zeki Okten, which enabled him to observe and as- 
similate Ye§il<;am filmmaking practice. Demirkubuz’s second film, 
Innocence (1997), positioned him as an auteur of the new cinema 
of Turkey. His trilogy, Mental Minefields: The Dark Tales, begins 
with an adaptation of Albert Camus’ 1942 novel L’Etranger ( The 
Stranger / The Outsider) and continues with films imbued with self- 
reflexivity and hints of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. 
Demirkubuz’s works utilize a vocabulary of realism inflected by 
diversely angled, claustrophobic interior shots, and by disturbed and 
fragile male characters recalling Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Demirkubuz 
films are sparsely narrated and composed, in the tradition of low- 
budget cinema, and include autobiographical elements. Demirkubuz 
has acted and made cameo appearances in his own films, as well as 
performed small roles in some others. 

DEREKHSHANDEH, POURAN (1951- ). When Derakhshandeh 
made Mute Contact (1986), the first feature film by an Iranian 
woman since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, she was entering a dis- 
cursive space that privileged feminine subjectivity already opened 
up by the pioneering works of writer-director Forough Farrokhzad 
and by novelist Simin Daneshvar. While Derakhshandeh ’s films 
favor theme-driven, traditional narratives as opposed to experimenta- 
tion with form— reminiscent more of Daneshvar than Farrokhzad— 
their near-dramatic urgency calls attention to taboo social subjects 
such as the lives of children with mental retardation (The Children 


of Eternity [2006]), adolescent sexuality ( Wet Dream [2005]), drug 
addiction among modem Iranian youth ( Candle in the Wind [2004]), 
oppression of children ( Love without Frontier [1998]), and oppres- 
sion of women ( Lost Time [1989]). See also GENDER AND SEXU- 

DERKAOUI, MUSTAPHA (1941[1944?]- ). One of Morocco s film 
pioneers, Derkaoui studied cinematography at the Institut des hautes 
etudes cinematographiques in Paris, and filmmaking at the Na- 
tional Film and Theatre School in Lodz during the 1960s. He made 
documentaries and was recognized initially for the semiotically and 
intellectually abstract quality of his films About Some Meaningless 
Events (1974), The Beautiful Days of Sheherazade (1982), Provi- 
sional Title (1984), First Fiction (1992), Game with the Past (1994), 
and The Seven Gates of the Night (1994), after which he changed 
tack, moving toward a variation of populist realism that appealed to 
a young public, in The Love Affairs of Hadj Mokhtar Soldi (2001), 
Casablanca by Night (2003), and Casablanca Daylight (2004). 
Casablanca by Night , for example, follows a young girl through the 
city’s underworld of drugs, prostitution, crime, and delinquency as 
she tries to earn money for her brother’s much-needed surgery. 

Whereas his earlier films would have included dream sequences 
and abstract symbolism, Derkaoui’ s later corpus projects an urbane 
realism in which Moroccans are portrayed as immoral or freewheel- 
ing social marginals existing in a corrupt society that leaves no op- 
tions or respite inside the law. Derkaoui also contributed, as one of 
five co-directors, to the Tunisian production The Gulf War . . . What 
Next? (1991) with an episode entitled “The Silence,” a story of Iraqi 
exiles putting on a play while yearning to see their changed country. 
Derkaoui’s brother, Abdelkrim Derkaoui, is Morocco’s most prolific 
director of photography. 

DESERT TRILOGY. Tunisian director Nacer Khemir began this 
three-part series of films set in the desert with his first feature. Wan- 
derers in the Desert (aka The Drifters) (1984), edited by Moufida 
Tlatli and scripted in classical Arabic ( Fusha ), about a teacher 
(Khemir) sent by the government to conduct classes in a village so re- 
mote that some argue it does not exist. Once there, Abdelsalem learns 


from the village sheikh that there are no classrooms but a few mis- 
chievous children amid the small, dilapidated buildings. Abdelsalem 
is compelled to explore the village’s labyrinthine passageways, meet 
its few inhabitants (including a boy who speaks with a genie who 
lives in a well, and is believed by his dying mother to be the angel of 
death), and spend time with a village wise man, who explains to him 
the absence of pupils. Most young men in the village have abandoned 
home compulsively to join a group of perpetual desert wanderers, 
some of whom Abdelsalem had in fact spotted while en route from 
the city. He becomes intrigued with the mystery of their obsession, 
which is piqued when the wanderers are seen passing by the village, 
chanting. One day, Abdelsalem is told that the wanderers regularly 
return home during the villagers’ yearly pilgrimage to a nearby 
holy site. Abdelsalem is asked to remain in the village during that 
period, with instructions to hand them a book in which lies, accord- 
ing to Abdelsalem, the cure to their obsession. Despite having been 
warned otherwise, Abdelsalem begins reading the book, and, as the 
wanderers arrive, finds himself lured with them— through visualizing 
and encountering the village elder’s beautiful, mysterious daughter, 
who bears uncanny resemblance to the image of a princess in the 
book— back into the desert. Upon the villagers’ return, Abdelsalem, 
as well as the boy, have disappeared; instead, an abandoned ship is 
found in ruins beyond the village walls. Not even a representative 
from the government is able subsequently to locate Abdelsalem or 
ascertain why he, along with so many other young men, have chosen 
the wandering life. 

Khemir’s second feature, The Dove’s Lost Necklace (1990), 
scripted in Tunisian Arabic, extends this mystical foray, laced with 
poetic devices, images of temporal diffusion and fantasy, and pan- 
oramic landscape shots of the desert contrasting vibrantly colored 
costumes and ornamental props. It is set loosely during the Golden 
Age of Islam, in a medieval city where books, literature, poetry, and 
philosophy are valued highly by the inhabitants. An idealistic young 
calligrapher’s apprentice, Hassan, enticed by the scent of his master’s 
ink, a monkey some think is a transformed prince, and a pomegranate 
bearing 60 Arabic words for love , becomes obsessed with the idea of 
love and discovering its secrets. When he locates some fragments of a 
book that his master tells him holds the key to his obsession, Hassan, 


with the help of a street-smart but fatherless boy, Zein, who works 
for one of the village booksellers and has been told by his mother that 
his father is a genie, sets out to find the book, some torn and missing 
pages of which he has read despite warning from his master. Having 
located Ibn Hazm’s legendary Andalusian tract. The Dove’s Necklace 
(or a work very much like it), he quickly loses it amid the chaos of 
a social uprising against the regional monarchy that erupts following 
the death of the king. Despite and because of this loss, Hassan, chas- 
ing a dervish, chances upon Aziz, a female figure with a dreamlike 
aura who bears uncanny resemblance to the image of the Princess of 
Samarkand in the book. Although unable to retain her fleeting pres- 
ence throughout their ensuing quest, he becomes enamored of her 
and is able to realize love through their psychic encounter. 

The third film, Bab ’Aziz (The Prince Who Contemplated His 
Soul) (2005), scripted in Persian, Tunisian, and classical Arabic 
( Fusha ), is cinematically the most lavish and poetic of the Trilogy, 
and structurally its most layered and intertextual. In the tradition of 
1001 Nights , the ritual recitation of Arabic poetry, and Sufi poetics, 
Bab’ Aziz presents a mise-en-abyme narrative framed by a magical 
tale of a blind dervish’s (Bab’Aziz) journey across the desert with his 
granddaughter, Ishtar, in search of a legendary gathering of dervish 
elders that occurs only once every 30 years. Although its location is 
unknown, Bab’Aziz assures impatient little Ishtar that “those who 
are invited will find their way.” The two traverse the vast desert 
landscape, encountering eccentric characters also en route to the 
gathering, who recount stories that magically intersect those already 
told Ishtar by Bab’Aziz, including the ancient tale of a prince who 
relinquishes his realm in order to contemplate his soul in a desert 
pool. Shot in Iran and Tunisia and featuring music from Pakistan, 
Persia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Baluchistan, and the 
Ghashgai tribe, Bab 'Aziz revels in the open, tolerant, and welcoming 
Islamic culture of Sufism, known for its melding of love and wisdom. 
On these grounds, Khemir was awarded the East-West Coexistence 
Award from the Beirut Film Foundation and the organization Make 
Films Not War with the proceeds from which he has proposed to 
make a film about a music school in which Muslims, Christians, and 
Jews coexist peacefully. 

DISTANT • 109 

While the Desert Trilogy was distributed widely and received ac- 
claim at international film festivals, it has been seen as impenetrable, 
nostalgic, and self-exoticizing by some Tunisians and North Afri- 
cans, contributing to criticisms of orientalism and political evasive- 
ness in Khemir’s work as a whole. 

DETERMINATION (aka THE WILL ) (1939). Known as the first 
realist film made in Egypt, and consistently voted one of, if not the 
most important Egyptian film, this urban melodrama was directed 
by Kamal Selim and partly scripted and edited by Salah Abu Seif. 
It concerns a young Cairene man, Mohamed Hanafi, who is search- 
ing for both love and upward mobility. After passing his university 
exams, Mohamed, son of a modest barber shop owner, draws up a 
prospectus for an import-export business, for which he receives a 
promise of backing from a local pasha, Nazih, on condition that his 
son, Adly, be allowed partnership. The irresponsible Adly, an Angli- 
cized playboy, spoils the deal and insults Mohamed in the process, 
thus compelling the latter to find a desk job in order to win the hand 
of his beloved, Fatma. Meanwhile, Mr. Hanafi’s barber shop is nearly 
seized by creditors, since the mortgage money has gone to cover 
Mohamed’s tuition; he is bailed out by a middle-aged client, El Etre, 
who in turn hopes to convince Fatma’s parents that he is the better 
suitor. Thus, class struggle and romantic quest are interwoven, as Mr. 
Hanafi’s undertaker friends conspire to subvert El Etre’s deceptions, 
first by paying him back, while an embarrassed Nazih locates work 
for Mohamed— who marries Fatma. The plot unravels, however, as 
Mohamed is framed for workplace theft and loses his job, and El 
Etre steps in to marry Fatma when she leaves Mohamed for shame. 
A miraculously reformed Adly helps clear Mohamed’s name at work 
and agrees to reinvest in his business plan, just as Fatma is about to 
marry El Etre unwillingly— but the undertakers provoke a brawl at 
the pre- wedding festivities in time to preempt the ceremony — and for 
Fatma and Mohamed to reunite. 


DISTANT (2002). Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, perhaps the most 
prominent auteur of the new cinema of Turkey, Distant concerns 


a middle-aged photographer who must come to terms with his rural 
background and identity after a cousin from their village moves into 
his urban apartment. Full of sweeping vistas and following a gener- 
ally realist aesthetic. Distant was honored at the Cannes Film Fes- 
tival and marks Ceylan’s first international success. Along with his 
contemporary Zeki Demirkubuz, Ceylan is interested in stories that 
offer autobiographical intertexts, and he employs nonprofessional 
actors who are often his close relatives and friends. 

(2002). This semi-autobiographical film follows Nazareth-based ES, 
played by director Elia Suleiman, reprising his role from Chronicle 
of a Disappearance, who is burdened with a sick father and an unre- 
quited love affair with a woman who lives in Ramallah. A checkpoint 
on the Nazareth-Ramallah road forces the couple to rendezvous in a 
nearby parking lot. Their relationship and the situations surrounding 
them serve as metaphors for the lunacy of larger political problems. 
Through a series of interconnected sketches, the film portrays the 
absurdities of occupation and Palestinian life: Santa Claus chased 
by a gang of knife -wielding kids; Israeli police using a blindfolded 
Palestinian prisoner to provide directions to a tourist in Jerusalem; ES 
unceremoniously tossing an apricot pit from his car window result- 
ing in the explosion of an Israeli tank; ES’s girlfriend defying Israeli 
soldiers and strutting through the checkpoint as if on a catwalk, her 
later descent from the sky as a female ninja, brandishing the map 
of Palestine as her battle shield as she bloodlessly annihilates half a 
dozen Israeli sharpshooters. Divine Intervention established Palestin- 
ian cinema’s creativity and Suleiman’s tragicomic, absurdist style on 
an international scale, blurring fantasy and reality into a dreamlike 
interpretation of Palestinian life through the quasi hallucinations of 
the silent hero. 

DJEBAR, ASSIA (1936- ). An Algerian novelist, poet, and film- 
maker, Fatima-Zohra Imalhayene adopted the pseudonym Assia 
Djebar when she wrote a novel in support of the Algerian student 
strike of May-June 1956 (in retaliation for her participation in which 
she was failed on her French university examinations and eventually 
expelled). She has authored more than 15 novels and volumes of po- 


etry, all popular and critically acclaimed. In 2005, she was elected to 
the Academie Fran§aise, the first Maghrebi writer to be so honored. 
Djebar also directed two semi-documentary, experimental films on 
Algerian women. The “Nouba ” of the Women of Mount Chenoua 
(1978) and The Zerda, Or The Songs of Forgetfulness (1982), in an 
attempt to reach illiterate audiences. The first of these, which takes 
its title and structure from the “Nouba,” a traditional Berber song of 
five movements plus overture and finale, interweaves fictional reen- 
actments and archival footage from the war to emulate the creation 
of a women’s historiography that resists the orientalist tendency 
toward travelogue and exoticism analyzed famously by American 
avant-garde filmmaker, Maya Deren ( Ritual in Transfigured Time, 

Its narrative follows Leila (whose resemblance to Deren is strik- 
ing), an architect traumatized by childhood memories of war, as she 
returns with her husband, Ali, a veterinarian crippled by a fall from 
a horse, and her young daughter, Aisha, to her native coastal region 
15 years after Algerian independence in search of information con- 
cerning her brother’s death. By listening to older women in various 
villages and observing their “Nouba” rituals, in which they perform 
the music that connects the film’s fragmented image-track, Leila’s 
trauma is expunged as she comes personally to integrate the power 
of the “Nouba” to transmit women’s participation in the anticolonial 
struggle as a form of women’s heritage to future generations. Simi- 
larly, The Zerda, Or The Songs of Forgetfulness chronicles Maghrebi 
life during the first half of the 20th century; it is structured like a 
poem in four stanzas, juxtaposing French newsreels from the two 
world wars with Berber women singing traditional songs. 

DOCUMENTARIES. The practice of documentary filmmaking in 
the Middle East has its roots in the early and silent periods, during 
which European colonizers and some indigenous elites made short 
films depicting everyday life as well as special events across the 
region. These films were considered orientalist in light of their rep- 
resentational styles, which objectified their subjects as exotic and/or 
uncivilized. The Lumieres in North Africa and southwest Asia, Al- 
bert Samama Chikly in Tunisia, Hans Helfritz in Yemen, Ya’akov 
Ben-Dov and Baruch Agadati in Israel, and the British-run Iraq Oil 


Corporation in Baghdad are just some of the directors of these early 
newsreels and actualites. Their political aesthetics were contested by 
filmmaking units established by anticolonial movements, especially 
within the Algerian government-in-exile’s Front de Liberation 
Nationale, run by Ahmed Rachedi, and the Palestine Film Unit of 
the Palestine Liberation Organization, the films of which are known 
retrospectively as Palestinian Revolution Cinema and catalogued 
as the Lost Archives of Palestinian Films. 

In the postcolonial period, several Middle Eastern countries set 
up production agencies that made documentaries, sometimes exclu- 
sively, and largely for public educational purposes. These include the 
Office des actualites Algeriennes, established in 1963 and directed 
for 10 years by filmmaker Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina; the Centre 
cinematographique Marocain, which also ran “cinema caravans” to 
rural areas; and the Unit of Experimental Cinema, founded in Egypt 
in 1968, and headed initially by Shadi Abdel-Salam, who made 
documentaries in addition to his more famous feature. The Night of 
Counting the Years (1968). In Syria, the National Film Organization 
sponsored documentary filmmaking by many of the country’s most 
important directors, including Abdullatif Abdul-Hamid, Samir Zi- 
kra, Mohammad Malas, and Oussama Mohammad, all of whom 
would also direct fictional features; in addition to supporting the 
early works of documentarian Omar Amiralay, whose subsequent 
critiques of government policy led to censorship of his films and his 
decision to produce— and often direct— elsewhere. After the estab- 
lishment of Israel in 1948, the Israel Film Service of the Ministry of 
Education and Culture continued the production of documentaries 
and newsreels for fundraising purposes in North America. In Iran, 
Ebrahim Golestan started the Golestan Film Unit, for which he 
made films and helped produce documentaries by Forough Far- 
rokhzad and Farrokh Ghaffari; and, much later, Rakshan Bani- 
Etemad began her film career directing documentaries for Republic 
of Iran Broadcasting and was a founding member the Iranian Docu- 
mentary Filmmakers Association. 

Indeed, numerous Middle Eastern directors, like their colleagues 
elsewhere, began their careers making documentaries before mov- 
ing on to narrative features. In addition to most Syrian directors, in 
Iran, this also included Sohrab Shahid Saless and Jafar Panahi; in 


Turkey, Yiicel (Jakmakli made a compilation film before directing 
features; in Egypt, Salah Abu Seif made documentaries during the 
late 1940s and early 1950s, as did Khairy Beshara during the 1970s 
and Yousry Nasrallah during the 1980s; in Morocco, Mohamed 
Abderrahman Tazi and Mustapha Derkaoui each made documen- 
taries before embarking upon fictional features; while in Algeria, 
Merzak Allouache made documentaries for the Centre national du 
cinema. Ferid Boughedir, who would go on to make one of the most 
successful of all Tunisian narrative features, first directed the docu- 
mentaries African Camera (1983) and Camera Arabe: The Young 
Arab Cinema (1987, edited by Moufida Tlatli). Beur cinema direc- 
tors such as Yamina Benguigui and Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud got 
their start in documentaries as well. 

Documentary techniques and aesthetics subsequently remained in- 
tegral to many of their later works, the result in some instances being 
a hybrid aesthetics with specific significance for particular national- 
cultural situations. This is nowhere more evident than in Palestinian 
films produced under Israeli Occupation, for instance those directed 
by Michel Khleifi, Hany Abu-Assad, Elia Suleiman, and Rashid 
Masharawi, in which a critical mixture of documentary and fictional 
practices, locatable to Palestinian Revolution Cinema’s mixture of 
poetic and documentary realism, has been considered expressive of 
Palestinian everyday life and persistent hope. Palestinian documen- 
tarians also working within this tradition include Mohammed Bakri, 
Norma Marcos, and the International Solidarity Movement col- 
lective, all of which have made documentaries since the First Inti- 
fada and the Oslo Accords. 

Similarly, in Lebanon, conditions during and after the Lebanese 
Civil War prompted a cinema comprised largely of films that com- 
bined experimental and documentary aesthetics, exemplified in the 
trilogy of Wael Noureddine and the films of Walid Raad, Akram 
Zaatari, Jala Toufik, Mohamad Soueid, Randa Chahal Sabbagh, 
Lamia Joreige, Danielle Arbid, Jocelyn Saab, Nicole Bezjian 
(Roads Full of Apricots [2001]), Myrna Maakaron (BerlinBeirut 
[2004]), and Maroun Baghdadi. Other noteworthy Lebanese docu- 
mentarians include Mai Masri and Jean Chamoun, Hady Zaccak 
(for satellite television), and Georges Nasser. In Iran, the play 
between documentary and fiction has become fundamental to much 


of the work of some of its most prominent auteurs, such as Abbas 
Kiarostami (especially in Close-Up [1990]), Mohsen Makhmalbaf 
(, Salaam Cinema [1994]), and Bani-Etemad ( The May Lady [1997]). 

Following the immediate postcolonial period, Maghrebi directors 
also continued to make documentaries that focused on internal strug- 
gles and issues, including works by Assia Djebar and Selma Baccar 
(both primarily documentarians integrating experimental aesthetics), 
Mohamed Rachid Benhadj (for Radiodiffusion Television Algeri- 
enne), and, for a period, Souheil Ben Barka, Jean-Pierre Lledo, 
and Farida Benlyazid. Djamila Sahraoui, in time, graduated to the 
narrative feature Enough! (2006), believing that the fictional form 
offered new opportunities for exploring the “truth”— in this case of 
Algerian experience— a feeling mirrored by many other documentar- 
ians. In addition, Ahmed Maanouni in Morocco and Omar Khlifi 
in Tunisia have each made documentary trilogies. 

In Turkey, documentary tradition began as early as 1897 with 
The Demolition of the Russian Monument in Hagia Stephanos 
(Fuat Uzkinay), perhaps the first Turkish film, and continued with 
the Army Photography and Film Center, run by Uzkmay, notably 
newsreels shot by Cemil Filmer. During the 1930s, Soviet docu- 
mentary filmmakers Sergei Yutkevich, Fev Amstam, and Esther 
Schub made films in Turkey about Republican reforms, including 
Schub’s Strides of Progress in the Turkish Revolution (1937). An 
important documentary series about Turkey’s archaeological and 
historical past was made at the Istanbul University Film Center by 
writer Sabahattin Eyuboglu and scholar Mazhar §evket Ipsiroglu. 
Since the 1960s, documentary practice in Turkey has veered in the 
direction of corporate support. Siiha Arm produced documentaries 
during the 1970s and 1980s, including Three Days in Kula (1983), 
about the architecture and life in a western Anatolian town. Similarly, 
Giiner Sanoglu made Felt (1984), about the production and uses of 
felt. During these years, the state broadcasting company, Turkish 
Radio and Television, also began producing documentaries as a part 
of its daily programming, including travel, ethnographic, nature, and 
docudramas. There is a very active and lively world of documentary 
in contemporary Turkey. Several documentary organizations are 
represented by the Association of Documentary Filmmakers, as well 
as by documentary film festivals (1001 Documentary Films Festival; 


Golden Saffron Film Festival), and a domestic documentary channel 
(IzTV). In recent years, indeed, some documentaries have fared well 
at the box-office ( Gallipoli [Tolga Ornek, 2005]). 

In Israel, in addition to the veritable genre of Holocaust docu- 
mentaries that began developing during the 1980s, a wave of antioc- 
cupation documentaries has emerged, including works by Amos 
Gitai (whose documentary work began much earlier), Eyal Sivan, 
Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, Avi Mograbi, Juliano Mer, Yulie Cohen 
Gerstel, and diasporic filmmakers Elle Flanders ( Zero Degrees of 
Separation [2005]) and Cynthia Madansky (Still Life [2004]). 

DOOR TO THE SKY, A (1988). Produced by the Societe anonyme 
Tunisienne de production et d’expansion cinematographiques, 
Farida Benlyazid’s first feature is a highly visual, Sufi-influenced 
narrative of a woman’s search for personal, cultural, and spiritual 
identity. Nadia, a young woman struggling between her Moroccan 
heritage and adopted French culture, returns from Paris to Fez to visit 
her dying father. At his funeral, her European and secular assurance 
is shaken by the powerful voice and spiritual joy of Kirana, a female 
chanter of Qur’an. A powerful friendship develops between the two 
women as they transform Nadia’s father’s sumptuous palace into a 
shelter for Muslim women. Yet the project of rediscovering Islam 
and creating a zawiya (“refuge”) for abused and needy women is 
not an easy path: Nadia is obstructed by her family’s lack of un- 
derstanding and by the women in the zawiya, whose conservative 
interpretations of Islam contrast with her own, more inclusive, views. 
Eventually, she chooses to abandon the house to pursue her own 
spirituality, her “door to the sky,” with a young man who— much 
to the consternation of the other women— she has helped to recover 
from his own spiritual malaise. In the Sufi tradition of immersion in 
textual form, this story is told as much through the camera’s careful 
attention to decor, costume, architecture, and landscape as through 
narrative, which traces a complexly layered arabesque. 


DREAMS OF A NATION. Co-founded by Columbia University 
Professor Hamid Dabashi and Palestinian filmmaker Annemarie 


Jacir, who is also its curator, this archival project is dedicated to 
the conservation and international distribution of Palestinian cinema. 
Dreams of a Nation was initiated by a major Palestinian film festival, 
held in New York City in 2003, that screened more than 34 features 
and documentaries over a period of four days. It has since become a 
traveling archive of Palestinian films available for screening at film 
festivals worldwide. 

DREAMS OF HIND AND CAMELIA (1988). New Realist director 
Mohamed Khan’s Egyptian melodrama portrays a close friendship 
between two complex, nonstereotypical women who work as domes- 
tic servants in order to earn a modicum of independence from their 
patriarchal families. An elliptical narrative traces the women’s fre- 
quent circumstantial meetings, whether in the context of their work 
in the same building, their commute on the same trolley, or their 
presence in the same market. The wiser, apparently more worldly 
Camelia remains childless; it is her idea, sparked by domestic 
violence she experiences, that the two women leave their families- 
relationships to live together as independent working women. Only 
after Hind’s thuggish boyfriend, Eid (Ahmed Zaki), and his brother, 
Anwar, rob an apartment where she is working, and Camelia leaves 
her brother Sayed’s violent home for a similarly brutish husband, Os- 
man, does Hind agree to Camelia’ s plan. By now, Hind is pregnant 
with Eid’s child; Camelia, fired for petty theft, convinces him to 
marry Hind. The baby is born in his absence — he’s been arrested for 
brawling— and the women name the child Ahlam (“dream”) in honor 
of their friendship. Typical of the homosocial and, in some instances, 
homoerotic undercurrents of some New Realist films, the women’s 
friendship deepens even as the two separate upon Eid’s return. Fol- 
lowing a picnic in a Cairo park several years later, Eid is jailed for 
illegal currency trading, and the women move back in together. They 
discover money buried in the yard— Eid’s stash— and hitch a ride to 
Alexandria, where they hope to see the ocean for the first time. On 
the way, they are drugged, possibly raped, and dumped on the sand; 
yet as Ahlam has survived unscathed, the women emerge energized 
and thankful: at last they and “their” daughter have reached the 
longed-for sea. (Although the film is known in English as Dreams of 


Hind and Camelia , its Arabic title can equally well be translated as 
Ahlam, Hind, and Camelia.) 

DREAMS OF THE CITY (1983). Mohammad Malas’ first narra- 
tive feature, co-scripted by Samir Zikra, is also considered the first 
auteur film to emerge from Syria. Set during the 1950s, it portrays 
life for a mother, Hayat, and her two young sons, who must abandon 
their small Golan Heights town of Quneitra, near the Israeli border, 
when Hayat is widowed. The family relocates to Damascus, where 
they are compelled to live with Hayat’ s cruel and miserly father, 
with whom the boys will be forced to remain, nearly imprisoned, 
when Hayat, who increasingly has become sexually liberated through 
friendship with a worldly female neighbor, remarries for convenience 
and moves in with her new husband. 

The story, typical of industry melodramas, supplies an atypical 
cinematic context for projecting images rarely seen internationally: 
Damascus, its parks, mosques, markets, popular neighborhoods, and 
inhabitants, and its turbulent public sphere. Yet the potential orien- 
talism of this Middle Eastern urban landscape is also subverted 
by the narrative. Dib, Hayat’ s elder son, is positioned as the film’s 
protagonist in a coming-of-age story in which maturation is over- 
determined by a series of political events, including multiple coups 
d’etat and the brief United Arab Republic formed between Syria and 
Egypt. Through its reflexive strategy, the film reenvisions the era 
counter to state-sanctioned narratives that glorify work and military 
heroism, from an unsentimental, disillusioning, and eerily contempo- 
raneous perspective. 

DRIDI, KARIM (1961- ). Born in Tunis but living in France, Dridi 
is regarded as a leading proponent of beur cinema, although unlike 
the better-known Mehdi Charef and Rachid Bouchareb, his films 
do not treat Arab issues only, but rather focus on a variety of im- 
migrant interrelationships and experiences. His first feature, Pigalle 
(1994), exposes a grim underworld of prostitution, drug abuse, and 
violent crime, while his second feature, Bye-Bye (1995), follows two 
beur brothers, 14 and 25, en route from Paris to Marseille, where 
the younger one is enticed by drugs and the older one struggles with 


internalized trauma as both encounter yet another city unfriendly to 
immigrants. Foul Play (1998), Dridi’s third feature, is a tragi-comedy 
about an aspiring actor who holds hostage a group of actors attending 
a dinner party. His subsequent Merry Cuba (1999) utilizes a single 
hand-held camera and boom-mounted microphone to document 76- 
year-old itinerant Cuban singer, Miguel Del Morales, aka El Gallo 
(“the Rooster”), wandering cross-country. With his Rage (2001), 
shot in Paris’s Chinese quarter, Dridi offers an impossible love story 
between two people whose seemingly ideal relationship is destroyed 
by cultural and familial differences. 

DRY SUMMER (1963). An internationally acclaimed rural drama that 
was awarded the Golden Bear at the 1964 Berlin Film Festival, Dry 
Summer depicts a conflict over land ownership in a Turkish village, 
which leads to one villager’s imprisonment and the ensuing rape of 
his wife. Despite rumors of actual conflict on the film’s set between 
director Metin Erksan and lead actor, Ulvi Dogan, the film’s pro- 
ducer, over alterations made to the film before and after its inter- 
national exhibition. Dry Summer remains celebrated for its social 
realist representation of inequality and injustice in rural Turkey and 
has been compared with The Bus Passengers (Ertem Gore 5 , 1961), 
which likewise addresses similar problems faced by residents of a 
metropolitan suburb. 

DUPES, THE (aka THE DUPED ) (1973). Referred to as an “intel- 
lectual melodrama” by its Egyptian director, Tawfik Saleh, this 
social realist epic, the title of which also connotes “betrayal,” was 
produced in Syria and adapted from the celebrated novella Men 
in the Sun (1962) by Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian author and 
political activist killed by a car-bomb in Lebanon not long after the 
film’s release. The Dupes was controversial among Palestinians for 
its slight but significant alteration of the novella’s ending, in a film 
otherwise exemplary in its faithfulness to the original. In 1958, three 
Palestinians attempt to emigrate to Kuwait in search of work in the 
oil fields. En route to Damascus, their respective journeys intersect, 
and they are persuaded by a water truck driver to hide in the hot but 
empty tank of his vehicle so that he may smuggle them, for a fee, 
through Iraq into Kuwait. In the course of their journey from Pales- 

EARTH, THE • 119 

tine, an arabesque aesthetic structure interweaves all four characters’ 
points-of-view, which represent typical generational and social-class 
perspectives through an image-track richly layered with flashbacks, 
zooms, circular camera movements, and documentary inserts from 
the Nakba. 

Even after the three men set out for Kuwait with the truck driver, 
and the narrative becomes ostensibly more straightforward, the inter- 
penetration of points-of-view continues, foregrounding and drama- 
tizing the contradictory and disorienting neocolonial conditions that 
have brought these men to their collective predicament, as well as 
pointing to how the decision to emigrate may obstruct the possibil- 
ity of genuine social progress. For his having chosen to portray the 
three passengers ultimately resisting the dire conditions of their jour- 
ney-something that does not occur in Kanafani’s novella— Saleh 
was accused of exploiting the Palestinian situation in the interests 
of pan-Arabism. By the same token, the film was banned in Syria 
shortly after its opening there for its allegorical critique of Syrian 
exploitation of the same situation. In light of this reception, Saleh 
later would refer to this film, sardonically, as the “good-bye kiss” of 
his directorial career. The Dupes has, however, been considered one 
of the most important and significant Arab films concerning Palestin- 
ians under Israeli Occupation. 

- E - 

EARTH, THE (1969). Youssef Chahine’s adaptation of Marxist writer 
‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sharqawi’s 1953 novel, set in the 1930s, is an 
epic chronicle of life in a rural Egyptian village. The main plot 
concerns the unsuccessful attempts of the villagers to retain their 
access to water. Told that they can only irrigate their land a few 
days a month, several of the villagers are arrested for overwatering. 
Although the outside threat originally seems to unite the villagers, 
divisions resurface, and one of them is bought off by the local bey, 
representative of the ruling class in general. Portrayed as a narcis- 
sistic, European-featured aesthete alienated from the land beneath 
his feet, the aristocrat has no compulsion against destroying the life 
of the poor peasants, or fellahs. Eventually, his decision to build a 


road through the fields to his house leads to confiscation of several 
villagers’ land, including that of the films’ central presence, Abu 
Swaylim (Chahine regular, Mahmoud el-Milligi). Troops are brought 
in to enforce the unjust law, but Abu Swaylim develops a relationship 
with their leader. Captain Abdullah, a sympathetic character whose 
class position aligns him with the villagers rather than his superiors. 
Nevertheless, other authorities arrive, and the film concludes as Abu 
Swayulim is dragged, dying, from his land, his fingers clinging to the 
precious, life-giving earth. 

Imagery of water pervades The Earth , reflecting the faces of numer- 
ous characters, while the removal of dignity attached to cultivating 
the land is symbolized by the shaving of Abu Swaylim’ s moustache 
(a Middle Eastern marker of masculinity) while he is imprisoned. 
The Earth is one of relatively few Egyptian films to address rural 
poverty in detail. It was made under the auspices of the public sector, 
during the administration of Gamal Abdel Nasser, with its critique 
set at an unspecified point in the past, under the constitutional mon- 
archy. However, Nasserist land reforms had not changed conditions 
substantially, and a more contemporary application advocating fur- 
ther socialist-oriented reforms was viewed by many in Egypt as both 
possible and necessary. By extension, The Earth has been interpreted 
as a plea for Arab control of the Middle East, and thus a metaphor for 
the loss of territory to Israel in the 1967 Defeat. (Indeed AI-Ard, the 
film’s Arabic title, was also the name of a pan-Arabist Palestinian 
organization advocating Palestinian liberation prior to the formation 
of the PLO.) It screened at the Cannes Film Festival and substan- 
tially advanced Chahine’ s international reputation. 

EDGE OF HEAVEN, THE (2007). Turkish-German director Fatih 
Akin followed his acclaimed Head-on (2004) with this international 
hit about an ill-fated transnational lesbian relationship. The plot in- 
volves a young Turkish woman, a refugee in Germany who, having 
escaped Turkey’s repression of leftists, begins a sexual relationship 
with a young German woman. When the Turkish woman is extradited 
back to Turkey and imprisoned there, her German lover tries to free 
her but is killed accidentally by Turkish street children with a gun 
her lover has given her during a prison visit. The narrative turns upon 
the arrival of the dead woman’s mother (New German Cinema star 

EGYPT • 121 

Hannah Schygulla) in Turkey to retrieve her daughter’s body, and 
analyzes her decision to stay and follow through with her daughter’s 
quest. The film won the European Parliament’s LUX prize awarded 
to a European film that addresses and raises awareness about issues 
of concern to the European Union, such as integration and cultural 
diversity. See also GENDER AND SEXUALITY; WOMEN. 

EGELILER, ZERRiN (1949- ). Egeliler was the primary female star 
figure of the 1970s 16mm Turkish sex-film genre. She began her 
career posing for photographic novels during the mid-1970s, then did 
stunt work before performing in sex films starting in 1977. 1978-79 
marked the height of her career, during which she made 58 films. 
Egeliler also starred in Turkified sex comedies, including Charlie’s 
Fools (Giinay Kosova, 1978), a parodic remake of the U.S. television 
series Charlie ’s Angels in which the female angels are transformed 
into male fools; and loose remakes of Ye§il<;am films, including 
Hussy (Cetin inan£, 1978). In 1979, Egeliler abandoned cinema to 
become a singer, then quit the entertainment business altogether. 

EGI LMEZ, ERTEM (1929-1989). Before entering the film industry, 
Istanbul-born Egilmez earned a degree in economics and pursued 
entrepreneurial ventures that included the publishing of pocket-book 
take-offs of Mike Hammer novels, written by the prominent Turkish 
author Kemal Tahir. Egilmez is the director of Keep-on Class (1975), 
an adaptation about a group of seasoned students that spawned the 
most successful comedy film series in Turkish history, prompting six 
sequels during the Ye§il<;am period and three more during the post- 
Ye§ik)am period. Egilmez became a successful producer, as well as 
a director and screenwriter of cinematic melodramas, historical and 
nationalist adventure films, as well as the comedies for which he 
has been most celebrated, including the melodrama Hussy (1965), 
a loose adaptation of the Pygmalion story; A Nation Is Awakening 
(1966), a remake of the drama narrating the story of Turkey’s inde- 
pendence struggle; and Arabesk (1988), a late Ycsilcam parody of 
early melodramas. 

EGYPT. Egypt, probably the world’s oldest continually existing state, 
lies at the heart of the Arab world in the northeast corner of Africa, 

122 • EGYPT 

and contains approximately one-fifth of the total Arab population. 
Its natural geography is dominated by the Nile, a fertile strip of 
land surrounded largely by desert. At its delta, where the Nile River 
empties into the Mediterranean Sea, lies Alexandria, the country’s 
second city, long a center of cosmopolitan, transnational learning 
and gathering. Up the river is Cairo, the capital and largest city in the 
Arab world and Africa. 

Egypt’s first encounter with cinema took place amid a wave of 
colonial enterprises in which footage of everyday life, ancient monu- 
ments, and other tourist attractions were recorded and screened to au- 
diences of foreigners and elites. The first of these screenings was in 
Alexandria in 1896. Early productions were undertaken by foreign- 
ers, many of them Italians, residing in Egypt. Mohamed Bayoumi 
was the first Egyptian to work behind the camera, shooting Victor 
Rosito’s In the Land of Tutankhamen (1923), before going on to be- 
come a director in his own right. Stephane Rosti directed a film pro- 
duced by Aziza Amir— whose assistance may have made her the first 
Arab woman director— entitled Layla (1927), while the Lebanese- 
Argentine Ibrahim Lama directed A Kiss in the Desert (1928). 
Mohammad Karim— one of the first Egyptians to act in films, be- 
ginning in 1918, later went on to direct Zeinab (1930), based on a 
novel by Mohamed Heikal, as well as the musical melodrama The 
White Rose (1933), starring Mohamed Abdel Wahab, and the first 
talkie starring Yussuf Wahbi and Amina Rizq ( Sons of Aristocrats 
[1932]). Given the nature of cinema’s colonial associations at the 
end of the 19th century, it is not surprising that early films featured 
orientalist depictions of Bedouins and desert adventures. It was also 
during these early days that the most substantive instances of wom- 
en’s contribution to Egyptian cinema occurred, with pioneers such 
as Assia Dagher, Amina Mohamed, Aziza Amir, Bahiga Hafez, and 
Fatma Roushdy contributing as producers, directors, and performers. 
(These women were the subject of the documentary Women Who 
Loved Cinema [Marianne Khoury, 2002]). 

Egyptian film history has been integrally attached to that of its 
studio system. Following the foundation of Studio Misr in 1934, and 
its first production, Wedad (Ahmed Badrakhan/Fritz Kramp, 1936), 
Egyptian cinema came to be viewed in terms of generic periodization, 
with comedies, romances, musicals, and their combinations dominant. 

EGYPT • 123 

Typical stories are: boy meets girl who is involved in an abusive rela- 
tionship with a patriarchal elder; or a young unfortunate hero battles 
the forces of poverty and/or evil and/or corruption— with a happy 
ending. The early tradition of drawing on the country’s musical cul- 
ture-initiated by Mohamed Abdel Wahab’s contribution to The White 
Rose , and a series of other films directed by Karim, and by Umm 
Kulthum’s performance in Wedad— continued as a staple of Egyptian 
cinema, with singing stars such as Farid al- Attache, Mohamed Fawzi, 
Hoda Sultan, Sabah, and Abdel Halim Hafez prominent. 

Egyptian cinema would quickly spread and become vastly popular 
throughout the Arab world, partly as a consequence of the previous 
popularity of its singing stars, and it was as good as written into the 
Egyptian star system that successful performers should be able to 
sing and dance as well as act. Ismail Yasin and Shadia, for example, 
were entertainers as much as they were performers, working in stage, 
film, and television productions. To this day, the parallel strength 
of theater must not be ignored when considering the popularity of 
film actors and actresses, from early stars such as Yussuf Wahbi, 
Naguib El-Rihani, and Amina Rizq to Adel Imam and Mohammed 
Sobhy, stars of contemporary comedy dramas. Integral to the star 
system is the fact that several early performers were characterized 
in cinema according to comic personas derived from the stage, most 
notably Ismail Yasin, Naguib El-Rihani, Zeinat Sidqi, Yousef Shaa- 
ban, Abdel Moniem Ibrahim, Abdel Salam El-Nabulsi, and, later, 
Abdel Moniem Madbuly, Fouad El-Mohandis, Shewikar, Samir 
Ghanim, Adel Imam, and Soheir Babiy. 

The so-called “golden age” of Egyptian cinema following the 
establishment of Studio Misr, quickly followed by other studios, nur- 
tured major filmmakers such as Ahmed Badrakhan and Henri Bara- 
kat, who directed adaptations and musical melodramas, and Fatin 
Abdel-Wahab, who directed romantic comedies and musicals. By 
the 1950s, Egypt was producing up to 50 films a year and had nine 
fully equipped studios. Many of these films also targeted the wider 
Arab audience, while the Egyptian industry also absorbed talent from 
other countries, especially Lebanon, with performers and directors 
of Arab origin working extensively in Egypt. 

As the industry flourished, many filmmakers and critics became 
concerned with its seeming detachment from the political and social 

124 • EGYPT 

realities of their time. Yet even directors not known for social com- 
mitment included explicit or implicit reference in their films to co- 
lonialism, war, revolution— and class. Following the Free Officers 
coup of 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government made a point of 
encouraging and becoming involved in cinematic production— and 
so came Egypt’s second “golden age,” depicting a country that 
sought to fashion itself as modem, progressive, and independent. An- 
ticolonial films such as Mustafa Kamel (1952) and With God on Our 
S/c/e (1953—1955), both directed by Ahmed Badrakhan, demonstrated 
the potential of cinema to consolidate a popular national conscious- 
ness. The Cairo Fligher Cinema Institute was established in 1959, and 
in the same year Barakat directed his landmark The Nightingale’s 
Prayer (aka Call of the Curlew), featuring Egypt’s mega-star Faten 

Nationalization of the industry in 1963 took many in the film 
industry, even its supporters, by surprise. Among the most notable 
work produced in the public sector were films by realist directors 
Salah Abu Seif and Tawfik Saleh. They focused on the plight of 
the ordinary citizen in films concerned with questions of poverty 
and class, gender, power, and corruption. The country’s literary cul- 
ture added depth to the stories told, and through extensive, ongoing 
collaborations with writers such as Naguib Mahfouz, Tawfik El- 
Hakim, and Ihsan Abdel Quddus, filmmakers could address issues 
specific to Egyptian audiences. During this period, some of the most 
critically acclaimed Egyptian films were made, notable for their style 
as well as technical sophistication. Exemplary is Youssef Chahine’s 
The Earth (1969), adapted from Marxist writer ‘Abd al-Rahman al- 
Sharqawi’s 1953 novel, and considered by many critics the greatest 
Egyptian film. However, Egyptian cinema as a whole did not sud- 
denly become socially conscious, nor were its filmmakers necessarily 
committed, for example, to the country’s role in Palestine following 
the 1967 Defeat. 

The dominant voice of mainstream productions remained largely 
formulaic, apolitical, and populist, with comedy stars such as Fouad 
El-Mohandis and Shweikar reaching their peak during the 1960s and 
1970s. In response to Anwar Sadat’s era of privatization ( lnfitah ), 
in which government subsidies for film production declined, a cri- 
tique arose of the corruption and failure of the previous regime— for 

EGYPT • 125 

example, the exceptionally popular. Watch Out for Zuzu (Hassan 
El-Imam, 1972), written by Salah Jahin and starring Souad Hosni, 
or, more explicitly. The Sparrow (Chahine, 1973), and Karnak (Ali 
Badrakhan, 1975). These were followed by a wave of New Real- 
ist films during the 1980s and early 1990s, the works of directors 
Daoud Abdel Sayed, Khairy Beshara, Mohamed Khan, Atef 
El-Tayeb, and Yousry Nasrallah. Literary adaptations decreased 
as filmmakers-writers such as Youssef Chahine and Bashir El-Dik 
avoided collaboration with literary giants and started to develop their 
own narratives that treated the corruption of individuals, as well as 
the social system. The duality of mainstream and New Realist films 
was threaded together by a persistent star system, which meant that 
performers often worked in both frames. Hence the art-commercial 
boundaries of the time were blurred— a phenomenon largely appli- 
cable to the broad span of Egyptian film history, traceable back at 
least to Determination (aka The Will), directed by Kamal Selim in 
1939, and often seen as Egypt’s first realist film. 

The 1990s and 2000s have produced at least two additional waves 
of commercial cinema. The industry’s links with theater and mu- 
sic, then with television and satellite channels (such as Rotana and 
Melody) and its popularized digital video form are indicative of the 
complex infrastructure of which cinema is now a part. The rise in 
television soap operas during the 1980s and 1990s opened a space 
in which film stars and television personalities could mix, with Nur 
El-Sherif, Yousra, and Salah El-Saadani, among others, working 
in both fields. Serials portraying the lives of musical and film stars 
such as Asmahan, Umm Kulthum, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Farid al- 
Atrache have been especially popular. Perhaps because of this rise in 
home entertainment, toward the end of the 1990s, Egyptian cinema 
production had dwindled to only about 20 films per year. Cairo’s 
construction boom since then, has, however, included mega-malls 
containing many multiplex theaters that screen both Egyptian and 
Hollywood releases. The traditional division of audiences between 
different exhibition venues in Egypt is now mirrored by the polariza- 
tion between Hollywood films attended by elites, and new comedies, 
playing in golden-age cinema houses in urban centers, canonized by 
the popular masses. The industry’s apparent decline at the end of the 
1990s was overcome in part by the popular musical comedy Ismailia 

126 • EGYPT 

Coming and Going (Karim Dia Eddin, 1997), which revived general 
audience interest. The recent wave of international (often Saudi) 
investment in Egyptian cinema has targeted largely popular (mass) 
audiences attracted to the comedy genre — and met with the disdain 
of critics. Actors such as Mohamed El-Hinidi and Mohamed Saad, 
who initially carried secondary roles, have helped revive the genre, 
while Adel Iman remains immensely popular. 

Typically, Egyptian comedy is rife with wedding brawls, mistaken 
identity, bodily functions, word play, and cross-dressing— the latter 
immortalized by Ismail Yasin in Miss Hanafi (Fatin Abdel- Wahab, 
1954) and Abdel Moniem Ibrahim in Lady Sugar (Abu El-Seoud El- 
Ebiary, 1960). Egyptian comedy is also sometimes closely related to 
social and political concerns. So-called “new wave” comedies have 
emerged in the 2000s in the context of Egypt’s escalating social 
problems, in particular a generation of youth confronted with unem- 
ployment and marginalization. In I Want My Rights (Nader Galal, 
2003), Hani Ramzy discovers a loophole in the Egyptian constitution 
and rallies support to sell off the fraction of national land that each 
citizen owns. In Saladin the Headmaster (Sherif Arafa, 2000), Alaa 
Walieddin plays a teenager who inherits a secondary school from his 
father and uses his freshly acquired power to overcome corruption 
and prevent the school from closure. 

Other genres, in particular action as well as the occasional hor- 
ror and thriller film, have also become popular among the younger 
generation exposed to Hollywood’s spectacle and special effects. A 
new generation of stars has emerged, including Ahmad Ezz, Ahmed 
El Saqqa, Tamer Hosny, Mona Zaki, Hend Sabri, Hanan Turk, and 
Menna Shalaby, who portray the personal relationships and everyday 
struggles of youth in soppy romances and more honest representa- 
tions, such as the successful Leisure Time (Mohamed Mostafa, 
2006), concerning a group of teenagers whose lives revolve around 
debates shaped by religious discourse on sex, drugs, and education. 
Meanwhile, the digital format has also come to accommodate a so- 
called wave of independent films, although this, too, has produced 
conventions, in particular those exploring religious and sexual taboos 
usually prohibited from mainstream films. The Cairo International 
Film Festival was founded in 1976, while the Ismailia International 
Festival for Documentary and Short Films began in 1997. 

EGYPT • 127 

As star performers, Egyptians have often been incredibly persis- 
tent, with many careers spanning more than 30 years. Adel Imam 
is perhaps the most obvious of these, but others have also become 
iconic: Abla Kamel as the tough, feisty, dominant, and articulate 
woman; and Hassan Hosny as the easily corrupted and beguiling 
patriarch. Egypt’s patriarchal society has created a male-dominated 
industry. During the 1980s and 1990s, Inas al-Deghidi was consid- 
ered bold for her more complex (as opposed to merely sensational) 
exploration of women’s sexuality. At the same time, the subject of 
women, or gender issues more broadly, has been central to the indus- 
try’s narrative constructions, from the early days, when the female 
protagonist was positioned as an object of desire, and remained so in 
such notable New Realist explorations of sensitive women’s issues, 
as in Dreams of Hind and Camelia (Khan, 1988). As stars, women 
performers have always been central. Women practitioners — such as 
editor Rashida Abdel-Salam— are also noteworthy. 

The span of Egyptian cinema enables examination of social, po- 
litical, economic, and cultural shifts and developments, with social 
issues typically more dominant than direct political critique. Cer- 
tainly, aspects of the country’s national identity (especially trends 
and fashions) have been shaped by film. Shadi Abdel-Salam’s The 
Mummy remains exceptional in its examination of Egypt’s relation- 
ship with its ancient past. Youssef Chahine’s Struggle in the Valley 
(aka Blazing Sun ) (1954) and Hussein Kamal’s Adrift on the Nile 
(1971), however, both include ancient Egypt as a backdrop to the 
narrative, with ancient monuments typically functioning as silent 
reminders of Egypt’s colossal past. Other films, such as Bride of the 
Nile (Fatin Abdel-Wahab, 1963), starring Loubna Abdel Aziz and 
Rushdi Abaza, employ the notion of an ancient princess emerging 
in present-day Egypt as a vehicle for yet another romantic comedy. 
The historical films of Chahine as well as of Ali Badrakhan com- 
ment mainly on religious intolerance, social hypocrisy, and political 
corruption. Perhaps the lack of a fully fledged genre concerned with 
the country’s ancient past is testimony to the industry’s dedication 
to contemporary life. Although censorship has been imposed during 
different periods of Egyptian history, corruption and the mockery of 
government officials, as well as drugs (ranging from hashish to her- 
oin) and prostitution are all recurrent features of industry productions, 


whereas a more conservative tone has been evident in some Saudi- 
sponsored films. 


EL-AZMA, SHERIF (1975- ). A pioneer of independent film and 
video production, Egyptian El-Azma’s work is mischievously devi- 
ant by contemporary art and film world standards. In 1997, as part of 
his film degree at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in England, 
El-Azma made the short Order in Satellite City (1997), exploring 
questions of memory and Cairo’s cityscape, and recording the rel- 
ics of the city’s downtown as one layered with historical waste and 
dusty debris. The work captures the satellite dish as the “architectural 
sign of culture of the twentieth century.” Footage from this film was 
reincorporated into two more recent projects: Powerchord / Skate- 
board (2007), a video diary that juxtaposes personal memory with 
landmarks in the evolution of the media, and The Psychogeography 
of Loose Associations (2008), in which, in the form of a scholarly 
lecture-performance, he weaves together a narrative of suspense and 
intrigue through reflections on the body, mapping, and communica- 
tion. In his longest work. Television Pilot for an Egyptian Air Host- 
ess Soap Opera (2003), El-Azma continues his interrogation of the 
familiar, in order to reveal inner workings and assumptions. In Inter- 
view with a Housewife (2001), he applies the distancing inherent in 
interview situations to a personal encounter, while in Donia / Amar, 
he uses a pseudodocumentary format depicting two music perform- 
ers— one mainstream, the other popular— to examine questions of 
class and gender in Egypt. El-Azma was also the cameraman for 
77zie/ (Mohamed Khan, 2004), the first feature-length film in Egypt 
to be shot on digital video. 

EL FANI, NADIA (1960- ). Born of a Tunisian father and a French 
mother, El Fani first worked as an assistant director on European 
productions, then in 1990 started a production company in Tunis, 
Z’Yeux Noirs Movies, for which she directed several short films and 
videos. Her first feature, Bedwin Hacker (2002), critically exposes 
Western stereotypes and cliches regarding Tunisia, Islamic taboos on 
gender and sexuality, and the power imbalance between France and 


its former colony. Kalt (Kalthoum), a female computer expert trained 
in France, hacks into foreign television channels to transmit subver- 
sive messages in Arabic via a cartoon camel. French Intelligence tries 
to locate and silence her with the help of its computer division led by 
Julia, Kalt’s former college chum and lover, whose efforts are finally 
sabotaged by another Tunisian beur, a young man in love with both 
women. The first Tunisian film shot on digital video, Bedwin Hacker 
is set at once in a remote desert village near the Algerian border 
and in Paris, and comments on the lack of media access available to 
Tunisians, while challenging the rights of France and of patriarchal 
power in both countries to control that media. El Fani’s follow-up 
film is Children of Lenin (2007), a documentary focusing on her 
father and other socialist and communist supporters who fought for 
social justice in postindependence Tunisia. 

EL-HINIDI, MOHAMAD (1962- ). At present, Hinidi is a major com- 
edy star in the Egyptian cinema. Bom in Ginza, he began his career 
in secondary roles, including one in An Egyptian Story (Youssef 
Chahine, 1982), and did not achieve his current fame until his ap- 
pearance as the best friend and side-kick to singer Mohamed Fouad 
in Ismailia Coming and Going (Karim Dia Eddine, 1997). Fouad 
stars as a singer who struggles to become famous — in a typical story 
concerning social mobility reminiscent of the films of Abdel Halim 
Hafez. The film featured the popular song, “Kamanana,” filled with 
catchy lyrics and innuendo. Credited with revitalizing the Egyptian 
film industry at a time when it was in dire need of rejuvenation, Is- 
mailia Coming and Going set in motion a series of star-driven com- 
edies in which Hinidi was to take a primary role. An Upper Egyptian 
at the American University (Sa’id Hamid, 1998), quickly followed 
with Hammam in Amsterdam (Hamid, 1999), are exemplary. In Me 
or My Aunt , Hinidi shows his penchant for cross-dressing, something 
he also undertakes in We Have Received the Following Information, 
in which he plays a quick-witted and energetic investigative journal- 
ist who, along with his partner (Hanan Turk), exposes the use of 
illegal chemicals in a milk factory. Despite his progressing age, El- 
Hinidi frequently takes on the role of the naughty teenager— perhaps 
facilitated by his baby-face and modest height— who is deviant and 


EL-MOHANDIS, FOUAD (1924-2006). An Egyptian comedy star 

who performed on radio, stage, and screen, Cairo-born El-Mohandis 
began as a stage apprentice to Naguib El-Rihani. Articulate and 
eloquent— attributed by many to his father having been an Arabic 
professor— his humor was largely derived from situation rather than 
based on the slapstick (some might say vulgarity) of other comedy 
performers. In 1953, El-Mohandis began work with writer, direc- 
tor, and actor Abdel Moniem Madbuli on the radio show “An Hour 
for Your Heart,” before acting in a number of stage comedies, most 
notably Me, Him and Her (directed by Madbuli in 1962 and starring 
a young Adel Imam), The Technical Secretary (1963), and an ad- 
aptation of My Fair Lady (1968). El-Mohandis acted with Shweikar 
in these stage performances, and the two went on to become one 
of Egypt’s most famous comedy duos, both on stage and screen. 
El-Mohandis was cast by Ezzedine Zulficar in supporting roles in 
Between the Ruins (1959) and River of Love (1960) before crafting 
his own comedy style. Following his marriage to Sheweikar in 1963, 
the two starred together in more than 20 films, singing, dancing, and 
performing in multiple and varying roles, she with her curvaceous 
figure and he with pencil moustache, horn-rimmed glasses, and 
pseudoacrobatic moves. In Amorous Chase (Nagdy Hafez, 1968), he 
plays the role of a pilot who fancies himself as a Casanova and chases 
airline hostesses from different countries until Sheweikar proves to 
him that “Egyptian is best.” El-Mohandis had a penchant for paro- 
dying Hollywood, most notably in The Most Dangerous Man in the 
World (Niazi Mustafa, 1967), in which he stars as the hilarious Mr. 
X, with black outfit and cowboy hat in a satire on the prototypical 
American villain. 

EL-RIHANI, NAGUIB (1889-1949). Born in Cairo, a Coptic Chris- 
tian with Iraqi roots, El-Rihani established himself as a comic on the 
Egyptian stage, appearing in musical comedy revues long before 
he entered the cinema. Most famously, he portrayed a lecherous 
village chief called Kish-Kish Bey — first on the stage and on radio, 
later in film in His Excellency Kish-Kish Bey (Stephane Rosti, 1931). 
El-Rihani’ s gift for verbal mimicry and dexterity characterized his 
appearances in the cinema, a notable early example being his role 
as a lowly delivery man who is mistaken for an extremely wealthy 


visiting prince in Everything Is Fine (Niazi Mustafa, 1936). His last 
role is as a schoolteacher, Hamam, in Flirtation of Girls (Anwar 
Wagdi, 1949), in which he is hired to teach Arabic lessons to the 
flunking daughter (Layla Murad) of a pasha, again offering excel- 
lent opportunities for word-play, metaphor, and double entendre. The 
film ends with a close-up of El-Rihani (who has just seen the wis- 
dom of relinquishing his love for the pasha’s daughter to a younger 
suitor, closer to her in class position) that has come to function as a 
cinematic goodbye: he died of typhoid in May 1949, several months 
before the film was released. 

EL-SHEIKH, KAMAL (1919-2004). A master of thriller and sus- 
pense, El-Sheikh is viewed as the Egyptian “Hitchcock.” His black- 
and-white films are most known for their focus on crime and the 
deviant tendencies of his characters, accentuated by his use of low- 
key lighting. El-Sheikh first trained as an editor in Studio Misr, and 
over the subsequent 10 years developed a reputation and style that 
was sought out by numerous directors, as he edited films for Niazi 
Mustafa, Kamal Selim, Ahmed Badrakhan, and Anwar Wagdi, 
among others. His directorial debut, a psychological drama entitled 
House Number 13 (1952), demonstrated the mastery of film language 
he had achieved, through his editing experience. His ability to create 
and build suspense was also evident in Life or Death (1954), a race 
against time to prevent a young girl from giving her father the wrong 
dose of medicine. 

In El-Sheikh’s Lady of the Palace (1958) and The Last Night 
(1963), we witness the oppression of female characters (both Faten 
Hamama) who are psychologically tormented by the men with 
whom they are living. Both films are set in the affluent houses of the 
upper bourgeoisie, exposing their moral decadence as reflected in 
the oppressive architecture and interiors. Following the 1967 Defeat, 
El-Sheikh became increasingly critical of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 
regime, and his films bore more political comment, shifting from 
an emphasis on psychological torment to the more menacing insti- 
tutionalized forms of oppression carried out by greedy profiteers. 
He filmed some of Egypt’s classic novels, most notably the Naguib 
Mahfouz adaptations Miramar (1969) and The Thief and the Dogs 
(1962), a sympathetic depiction of a thief-turned-fugitive (Shukri 


Sarhan) and the “tart with the heart” (Shadia) who takes him in. In 
his political thriller, At Whom Do We Shoot? (1975), El-Sheikh looks 
at the corruption of a construction company owner who attempts to 
cover up the use of faulty materials by holding an innocent engineer 
responsible. The film comments on the general corruption of both 
state and private institutions that developed under Nasser. 

EL-SHERIF, NUR (1946- ). An Egyptian actor whose career has 
spanned more than 50 years, El-Sherif graduated from the Higher 
Theatre Institute in 1967 and acted that year in his first film, the 
Naguib Mahfouz adaptation Palace of Desire (Hassan El-Imam). 
In one of his earliest roles, he starred in My Wife and the Dog (Said 
Marzuq, 1971)— a surreal story about a group of men who work 
in a lighthouse, where El-Sherif’ s character fantasizes about sex. 
He also starred in several New Realist films, including Sun Stroke 
(Mohamed Khan, 1978), The Bus Driver (Atef El-Tayeb, 1983), A 
Hot Night (El-Tayeb, 1996), and Blood on the Pavement (El-Tayeb, 
1992). El-Sherif played Youssef Chahine’s alter-ego in An Egyptian 
Story (1982), and the Spanish poet Ibn Rushd in Destiny (Chahine, 
1997). In Streets of Fire (Samir Seif, 1984), set during the 1940s 
British occupation, El-Sherif stars as a young conscript posted in a 
street that houses a famous bordello. Initially outraged, he discovers 
that his love interest is a prostitute. Following a brawl in which he 
hits an English soldier, he is dismissed from service, but eventually 
deposes the pimp and takes over the bordello himself. Such moral 
polarization has been captured in other El-Sherif films. In The Shame 
(Ali Abdel-Khaliq, 1982), he plays a brother who forfeits an educa- 
tion in order to work with his father, in turn bearing the ethical bur- 
den of his brothers’ drug dealing following their father’s death. 

Between 1972 and 2006, El-Sherif was manned to actress Boussi, 
and together they performed in several films, including My Love 
Forever? (Hussein Kamal, 1980), an adaptation of the gushy ro- 
mance, The Love Story, in which a man conceals from his beloved 
wife that she has a terminal illness, taking her to London so that they 
may spend their last days together there. An outspoken supporter of 
the Palestinian cause, El-Sherif starred as Palestinian cartoonist Naji 
al-Ali (El-Tayeb, 1991). During the 2000s, he featured in televisions 
serials, including El-Hajj Metwally, in which he plays a traditional 


man with several wives, and / Won’t Lead My Father’s Life, as a 
patriarch. He continues to act in both film and television. 

EL-TAYEB, ATEF (1947-1995). A graduate of the Egyptian Higher 
Cinema Institute in 1970, Atef El-Tayeb began his career as assistant 
director to Shadi Abdel-Salam and Youssef Chahine, among oth- 
ers, before becoming one of the main directors associated with New 
Realism. In his early films, El-Tayeb focused on social problems 
faced by Egyptians during the 1980s. The Bus Driver (1983), one 
of the earliest and best known of the New Realist films, written by 
Mohamed Khan and Bashir El-Dik, is the story of the protagonist’s 
(Nur El-Sherif) struggle to save his father’s workshop, which risks 
expropriation. Based on a story by Naguib Mahfouz, Love on the 
Pyramid’s Plateau (1986) looks at the financial burdens facing a 
young couple— in particular the difficulty of obtaining a work permit 
in the oil-rich Gulf states and finding suitable and affordable housing. 
In his later films, El-Tayeb continued to portray characters who are 
confronted with financial ruin. His heroes represent the virtues of the 
poor who stick together in times of hardship and are easily contrasted 
with greedy businessmen, materialistic family members, or gangster- 
officials— all familiar products of the country’s economic profile at 
the time (and, arguably, thereafter). 

El-Tayeb ’s films often feature sensational violence and action, tied 
to scathing social commentary. Both The Prison Cell (1983) and The 
Execution Squad (1989) contain scantily clad women— armed and 
dangerous— who are compelled to take the law into their own hands. 
Thus El-Tayeb portrayed the dramatic extremity of characters who 
face relentless forces of power and corruption, while also satisfying 
the demands of a mass audience. In Blood on the Pavement (1992), 
the elder son of a courthouse clerk returns from abroad to find that 
his brother is a drug dealer and his sister a prostitute, while his father 
pretends ignorance. As the protagonist tries to set them straight, the 
situation gets out of hand, his sister brutally mutilated by a client, 
and his brother becoming heavily in debt to his boss. In turn, A Hot 
Night (1996) is reminiscent of The Bus Driver, as a taxi driver (again, 
El-Sherif) and a prostitute (Libliba) frantically search the city for 
money. El-Tayeb also made a film about the life of a Palestinian 
cartoonist, the titular Nagui El Ali (1992). 

134 • ENOUGH! 

ENOUGH! (aka BARAKAT!) (2006). Born in Algeria in 1950, 
Djamila Sahraoui has lived in France since 1975. She is a documen- 
tarian, many of whose films explore conditions in Algeria during 
the decade of civil war that began in the 1990s. Enough !, her first 
feature, marks an attempt to continue her exploration of the period 
through the different kind of truth offered by narrative. Adopting the 
realism of her prior documentaries, it chronicles the plight of Amel, 
an emergency physician living and working in a small-town hospital 
during the outbreak of the civil war. Upon returning home after an 
emergency trip to the hospital, Amel finds her journalist husband 
missing. Inferring that he was abducted by Islamists, Amel seeks 
help from the authorities, but is snubbed. She decides to take matters 
into her own hands and begins searching the war-tom foothills, ac- 
companied by Khadidja, a nurse and veteran of the Algerian anticolo- 
nial struggle. The women eventually approach a militant hideout, but 
Amel’s husband is nowhere to be found. Captured, they are allowed 
to escape by the group’s leader, a former independence fighter who 
recognizes Khadidja as one who had treated his wounds during the 
war of liberation. The women ultimately find refuge with an old man 
who assists them in their return home. (“Barakat” is also the name of 
an Algerian women’s activist group.) 

ENTAZAMI, EZZATOLLAH (1924- ). Born in Tehran, Entazami is 
one of the most prominent actors in Iranian cinema, having worked 
with numerous influential Iranian directors. After training in Ger- 
many, he started his career as a stage actor, then experienced his 
cinematic breakthrough with a tour-de-force performance as Mash’d 
Hassan, the protagonist of The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, 1971). En- 
tezami would appeal - in seven more films directed by Mehrjui, and 
also appeared regularly in the films of Ali Hatami. Unlike many 
Iranian actors in commercial cinema during the Pahlavi monarchy, 
Ezzatollah (like his contemporary, Ali Nasirian, who had also found 
fame with The Cow ) continued to perform in films made after the 
1979 Iranian Revolution. In Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Once Upon a 
Time the Cinema (1992), Entezami plays the Qajar Shah, who rejects 
cinema, in a film that also functions as Makhmalbaf’s personal per- 
spective on Iranian cinema history; in one scene, Ezzatollah, as Nasir 
al-din Shah, watches his own performance in The Cow. 


organization and administration of Algeria’s state -run cinema was 
revised in 1984, when the Office national pour le commerce et 
l’industrie cinematographiques was split into two separate orga- 
nizations: ENAPROC, responsible for production, and ENADEC, 
responsible for distribution and exhibition. November 1987 saw fur- 
ther reorganization, as the Centre Algerien pour Part et l’industrie 
cinematographiques replaced both ENAPROC and ENADEC. 

ERAKALIN, ULKU (1934- ). One of YegUgam’s “fast guns,” Turk- 
ish filmmaker Erakalm quit his conservatory studies to try his luck at 
journalism before starting out as an assistant director in 1959. Since 
1961, he has directed more than 150 films in a 25-year career, while 
also working as a singer and performer. His films are representative 
of an array of genres, including sex films such as Yegilgam Street 
(1977), a comedy that introduces the adventures of two villagers 
hoping to become movie stars, and Forbidden Fruit (1965). Unlike 
other Turkish filmmakers who would deny their involvement in the 
sex film industry, Erakalm has referred to these films, in which “ac- 
tors [are] performing reality, real subjects, and realities as such,” as 
means of survival for people in the film industry who were not only 
acting out, but also experiencing, various difficulties. 

ERKSAN, METIN (1929- ). Born in Canakkalc. Turkey, Erksan is an 
art history graduate, who began his career as a film critic and screen- 
writer before directing his first film. The Dark World , in 1952. The 
representation of the poverty and barren landscape of the Anatolian 
steppes, in this semifictional documentary about a blind folk singer, 
prompted censorship of some scenes. Erksan nonetheless continued 
making films in this vein. His Dry Summer (1963), a rural drama in 
the social realist tradition, won best film at the Cannes Film Festi- 
val. In the context of “true” national cinema debates in Turkey, 
where he was associated with the perspective of Halit Refig, Erksan 


explored a homegrown, two-dimensional visual narrative vocabulary, 
most famously in his A Time to Love (1965), which explored the Sufi 
theme of falling in love with the image of the beloved. During the 
1970s, Erksan directed popular melodramas and comedies, includ- 
ing a remake of The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973), entitled The 
Devil (1974), and an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with a fe- 
male lead, entitled The Angel of Vengeance: Female Hamlet (1976). 

ERMAN, HURREM (1913-2003). After studying law and literature, 
Erman opened a theater in 1932. He founded his own production 
company in 1946, as Ye^il^am began to emerge, and started work- 
ing with Liitfi O. Akad. He produced more than 70 films, includ- 
ing Akad’s migration trilogy and Atif Ydmaz’s Mad Yusuf (1975), 
a “biter-bit” comedy in which the people, compelled by a leader, 
rebel against an evil landlord. Several of Erman’s films were box- 
office hits that have come to be considered masterpieces of Turkish 
cinema, not least for having served to raise the international profile 
of Ycsilcarn cinema through export and co-production activities, 
including Akad’s migration trilogy, Halit Refig’s Turkish-German 
drama, I Lost My Heart to a Turk (1969), and his Turkish-Iranian 
co-produced adventure film. The Nameless Night (1970). 

ERTUGRUL, MUHSIN (1892-1979). Istanbul-born, Ertugrul is 
known as the “single man” of early Turkish cinema. He was pri- 
marily a theatrical director and actor for whom filmmaking was a 
secondary, lucrative occupation. After performing in plays through- 
out Turkey, he sought work in foreign cities such as Paris, Berlin, 
and Moscow in order to develop his craft. It was in Berlin that he 
became involved in cinema, directing three films in German between 
1919 and 1920, and two films in the Soviet Union in 1925. Ertugrul 
was an avid supporter of Western theater and of the westernization 
of Turkish performing arts. He directed some of the first nationalist 
epics narrating the Turkish War of Independence. Although he was 
responsible for the earliest sound and color films in Turkey (and for 
directing the country’s first movie star, Cahide Sonku, in her first 
cinematic roles), his later films are marked by silent film aesthetics. 
These include A Nation Is Awakening (1932), the dramatization of 
Turkey’s independence struggle; Aysel (1934), a melodrama based 


on a Selma Lagerlof story; and Carpet-weaving Girl (1953), his 
last— but Turkey’s first color— film, a melodrama about a beautiful 
young woman who moves from her rural home to a big city. 

ESTHER ( 1986 ). A formidable example of cinema that foregrounds 
the medium by drawing attention to technique, Amos Gitai’s aes- 
thetically challenging adaptation of the biblical story of Esther was 
the director’s first feature. Co-produced by British, Austrian, and 
Dutch television just prior to the onset of the First Intifada, Esther 
was filmed largely in the ruins of Wadi Salib, the former Palestinian 
section of Haifa subsequently repopulated by Mizrahi immigrants 
from Morocco. Scenes generally comprised of only one, extended 
take, and shot with deliberate camera movements through the ruins, 
help construct a historically layered mise-en-scene against which re- 
flexive performances by important actors such as Mohammed Bakri 
(Mordecai the Jew) and Juliano Mer (Haman the Persian) serve to 
foreground the contradictions of Zionism. 

EXAM ( 2006 ). Omer Faruk Sorak’s contemporary youth film is an 
action-adventure that centers upon the national university entrance 
examination in Turkey. Recalling the nationalist politics of and 
around Valley of the Wolves, Iraq (Serdar Akar, 2005), Exam stars 
Hollywood favorite Jean Claude Van Damme, an indication of popu- 
lar Turkish cinema’s growing global presence and the transnational 
nature of much contemporary Middle Eastern filmmaking. Along 
with remakes of Keep-on Class (Ertem Egilmez, 1975), Exam is one 
of several recent school and/or youth comedies that was financially 
successful, apparently due to its formulaic plot structure and scenes 
of female nudity. 

EXHIBITION. Cinema throughout much of the world is not vertically 
integrated, as it is in the United States, where producers wield consid- 
erable influence over film distribution and exhibition. A more typical 
pattern, in the Middle East and elsewhere, entails a contradictory re- 
lationship between local producers, a historically Western-controlled 
or influenced distribution system, and exhibitors whose economic 
interests are more in line with the latter than the former. No national 
cinema in the region, not even the relatively large Egyptian industry, 


can come close to providing sufficient films to fill theaters year- 
round. However, a film typically requires surplus financial returns 
both domestically and through export in order to make a profit- 
something that a large number of Egyptian studio films, distributed 
and exhibited throughout the Arab world, have historically been able 
to achieve. Hollywood cinema, on the other hand, has not typically 
required foreign sales to be profitable, and thus U.S. producers have 
been able to make films with high production values readily available 
at low cost to overseas audiences, at the expense of local industries, 
including the Egyptian. A second problem for the domestic exhibi- 
tion of Middle Eastern cinema is the chronic lack of theaters through- 
out the region— and their centralization in just a few cities. 

In Egypt— where theaters have traditionally been divided into 
three categories reflected in the admission cost, with the lowest 
“third,” or terzo, category showing older films to a mostly male, 
working-class audience who may come and go at any time — there 
have never been more than 360 functioning theaters, and more than 
half of the total are in the two urban centers of Cairo and Alexandria. 
The number of theaters in the country declined precipitously from 
a peak in the early 1950s to a low-point in the early 1990s. Since 
then, an increase has occurred in both the numbers and standards 
of theaters, with some new, first-class venues built in shopping 
malls — leading to the production of so-called shopping mall films 
aimed at that audience. In Iran, a considerable number of theaters 
were destroyed during the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and despite 
occasional efforts to replace them, they remain far too few in num- 
ber. Under the Islamic Republic, theaters have been ranked, and 
screening permits determine which films can play where. In Leba- 
non, too, numerous theaters were destroyed during the Lebanese 
Civil War. Although filmgoers often managed to take refuge from 
the violence during afternoon matinees — a traumatic experience 
that has featured nostalgically in postwar Lebanese films— Western 
and Egyptian commercial fare has continued to dominate Lebanese 
screens, as an increasing array of multiplexes have come to compete 
with the older theaters. 

The Turkish experience illustrates fairly typical fluctuations in 
the numbers and nature of exhibition venues. The first public screen- 
ings in Turkey date to 1896 — screenings began early throughout 


the region, with Lumiere operators shooting footage and projecting 
it and other material shortly thereafter— with the first film theaters 
opening in 1908. Approximately 30 of them existed by 1923, rising 
to 130 in 1939, to 600 in 1957, and reaching an all-time high during 
the early 1970s with approximately 2,400 in 1972, including open- 
air theaters. With the decline of the Ye^il^am industry, however, 
theater numbers in Turkey fell: in 1980, 941 theaters existed, and by 
1990, as few as 354. But, by 2007, after the spread of both national 
and international theater chains and multiplexes, 41 1 theaters and/or 
multiplexes existed in Turkey, housing a total of 1,299 cinemas. The 
Turkish state originally was not interested in opening cinematheques', 
the only existing places that might have served such functions were 
the screening theaters established by the Republican People’s Party 
at the People’s Houses, which were founded to promote Republican 
culture and which were later closed under the Democratic Party gov- 
ernment. This situation continued until the mid-1960s, when the first 
Turkish cinematheque and film archive were established. 

Although cinema theaters existed in Palestine prior to 1948, 
exhibition of films only reemerged in the Occupied Palestinian 
Territories during the late 1990s due to political and economic 
hardships, and remains inadequate and uneven. Film screenings cater 
mostly to an elite, urban audience in newly founded cinematheques 
or cultural centers, although a “mobile cinema” has begun to emerge 
for rural and refugee camp populations via the Cinema Production 
and Distribution Center. Mobile films were much earlier a feature 
of colonial and, then, state-administered cinemas in the Maghreb. 
Currently, Morocco has more theaters than neighboring Tunisia 
and, especially, Algeria (where exhibition possibilities have de- 
clined dramatically along with production due to recent violence), 
but many cinemas there have closed in the face of competition with 
the (pirated) video-DVD market and expanding satellite services. 
As a result, Moroccans, much like peoples throughout the Middle 
East, may experience films in three major ways in addition to attend- 
ing traditional theaters: at home on television, in specialized cine- 
matheques, and, in some instances, at any number of film festivals 
of varying size and scope that have recently developed. Specialized 
and home viewing is especially common in Saudi Arabia, where 
cinema was banned until very recently, and in war-torn Iraq, where 


public venues are all but decimated. In remote rural areas throughout 
the region, home -viewing is the only realistic option. 

EXILE AND DIASPORA. A significant proportion of Middle 
Eastern films are produced outside the region and directed by film- 
makers living and working in Europe and North America, either by 
choice— as immigrants, children of immigrants who remain abroad, 
and temporary residents in search of cultural opportunity— or of ne- 
cessity— as refugees of war, occupation, and political persecution. 
The conditions of exile (involving the latter instances) and diaspora 
(involving the offspring of immigrants and exiles) are partially ef- 
fects of colonialism and, in the postcolonial era, transnationalism, 
which have, in turn, become common topics and contexts of exilic 
and diasporic films. The aesthetic effects of such conditions, their 
experience and understanding, have been lent the descriptive term, 
“accented,” following Hamid Naficy’s scholarly writings on exilic 
and diasporic cinema. Such effects are characterized as a tendency 
toward cultural hybridity that plays out, consciously or not, in spatio 
temporal dislocation, often involving the overlap of past and pres- 
ent; narrative disruption or ambiguity, sometimes in the context of 
stymied border-crossings; and perceptual uncertainty, perspectival 
ambivalence, and the incorporation of other media. The result is 
frequently the undercutting of received versions of history, language, 
subjectivity, and community. 

Of all the “accented” cinemas, the Palestinian is perhaps the 
only one that is fundamentally exilic. Having begun as Palestinian 
Revolution Cinema in Jordan and Lebanon, it has continued as an 
internally exilic, politically displaced practice within Israel and the 
Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), and its diasporic prac- 
tices in North America and Europe are largely a legacy of exile. The 
exceptional and longstanding character of Palestinian exile and dias- 
pora, marked especially by unsettled peace negotiations, have over- 
determined its cinematic output in favor of films that focus upon the 
Nakba, Israeli Occupation, and Intifadas. This is as true of films 
directed by first-generation diasporic Palestinians such as Annema- 
rie Jacir, Mai Masri, and Helga Tawil-Souri (Not Going There, 
Don ’t Belong Here [2002]) in the United States, Lina Makboul ( Leila 
Khaled: Hijacker [2006)]) in Sweden, and Mona Hatoum in the 


United Kingdom, as it is, not surprisingly, of films directed by exilic 
Palestinians Kamal Aljafari (The Roof [2006]) in Germany, Norma 
Marcos and Fouad Elkoury ( Quiet Days in Palestine [1998]) in 
France, Sobhi-al-Zobaidi {Looking Awry / Hawal [2005]) in Canada, 
and Elia Suleiman in the United Kingdom and the United States and 
by Palestinians living in Israel and the OPTs (Hany Abu-Assad, 
Michel Khleifi, Rashid Masharawi). These films relate Palestinian 
national-political concerns variously to the experience and psychol- 
ogy of exile and diaspora, exploring issues of memory, desire and 
nostalgia, travel, cultural communication, and identity. (Exceptional 
to this general tendency are the commercial films directed by Izidore 
Musallam being marketed for distribution to the Gulf states, includ- 
ing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.) 

Middle Eastern films directed by non-Palestinian filmmakers have 
also been concerned with Palestinian exile and diaspora, including 
works by Qais al-Zubeidi, Abdullatif Abdul-Hamid, Mohammad 
Malas, Nabil Maleh, and Tawfik Saleh in Syria; Ra’anan Alexan- 
drowicz in Israel; Borhane Alouie and Nigol Bezjian ( Roads Full 
of Apricots, 2001) in Lebanon; Farouk Beloufa in Algeria; Ridha 
Behi in Tunisia; Youssef Chahine in Egypt; Javad Ardakani {Ca- 
nary [2002]) in Iran; and beur director Malik Chibane in France. 
In some of these films, portrayals of Palestinians are abstracted to 
allegorize political struggles elsewhere. 

The obverse of Palestine’s cinema of exile may be beur cinema, a 
fundamentally diasporic practice by directors born in France and Bel- 
gium of Maghrebi immigrants, which has also opened to exilic film- 
makers, such as Algeria’s Merzak Allouache, born and sometimes 
still partially resident in the Maghreb. Its concerns are, by and large, 
the conditions faced by the North African immigrant and minority 
community in Francophone Europe and, sometimes, their families and 
friends in the Maghreb, with particular emphasis on the problematics 
of cultural assimilation, social marginality, racial discrimination, and 
the class consciousness of immigrant and minority communities. They 
frequently also provide a challenge on “content” and aesthetic grounds 
to the dominant industry cinemas of their adoptive countries. 

Turkish filmmaking abroad, an effect of immigration, is located 
primarily in Germany, where prominent directors are Fatih Akin 
and Thomas Arslan. Also of note is the work of Ferzan Ozpetek, an 


Italian resident by choice, and the artist-filmmaker, Kutlug Ataman, 
who lives in various countries including Britain and Spain. Their 
work has been especially concerned, often via cinematic explorations 
of gender and sexuality in European cultures, with the problemati- 
zation of Turkishness through not belonging, reversals of migration 
between home and host nations, and the stresses of diaspora. The 
much earlier Turkish industry film The Return (Tiirkan Sjoray, 
1972) examines the discriminatory treatment dealt Turkish guest- 
workers in Germany. The post-Ye§il<;am period in Turkey featured 
an influx of films by diasporic Turks and Kurds. 

An Israeli diasporic filmmaking presence has been marked by Jew- 
ish-North American directors who, having lived in or made aliyah 
to Israel (a religious pilgrimage meaning “ascent” and connoting the 
acquisition of citizenship), left the country subsequently for political 
reasons and made films expressing their concerns. Examples include 
Cynthia Madansky (Still Life [2004], about house demolitions in 
the OPTs) and Elle Flanders (Zero Degrees of Separation [2005], 
about Israeli-Palestinian gay and lesbian love relations). Israeli exile 
cinema is best represented by the European co-productions of Amos 
Gitai, while the exilic-diasporic character of Iraqi-Mizrahim in 
Israel and the United States is exposed in the documentary Forget 
Baghdad: Jews and Arabs — The Iraqi Connection (2002), directed 
by diasporic Iraqi Samir, and featuring Ella Shohat. 

In Iran, some filmmakers, notably Sohrab Shahid Saless, fled the 
Shah’s regime, and many more left at the start or in the aftermath of 
the Iranian Revolution of 1979. (Several prerevolutionary directors 
and actors, including star Behrouz Vossughi, were denied the ability 
to work in the cinema any longer.) The largest number of these be- 
came part of the Persian community in exile in the United States, and 
in the early years of the Iranian film renaissance of the 1990s, they 
engaged in a fierce debate over the validity of exhibiting these films 
in the United States — on the grounds that such activity legitimated 
the Islamic government. 

Many diasporic and exilic filmmakers consider themselves and 
their films as belonging to their countries of ancestral origin, even 
if those films are produced and/or directed by or in their adoptive 
homelands. This is especially true of filmmakers displaced by war. 

FAIRUZ • 143 

occupation, and political oppression, or whose families have been, 
and who retain cultural, intellectual, and political ties to those coun- 
tries, in some instances in hopes of eventual return. In addition to 
most filmmakers of Palestinian descent, such directors include the 
exilic Iraqi Amer Alwan (Zaman: The Man from the Reeds [2003]); 
the exilic Iranians Shahid Saless, Shirin Neshat, Parviz Sayyad 
(■ Checkpoint [1987]), Ghasem Ebrahimian ( The Suitors [1988]), and 
Jalal Fatemi (The Nuclear Baby [1990]); the diasporic Jordanian 
Amin Matalqa ( Captain Abu Raed [2007]); the diasporic Lebanese 
Jayce Salloum; and the diasporic Yemini, Bader Ben Hirsi. There 
are, however, exceptions, with Iranian exile Amir Naderi, for ex- 
ample, seeing himself as a New York City-based filmmaker and 
actively deemphasizing his national origin. 

Middle Eastern diasporic and exile communities frequently provide 
important audiences for cinema from their homelands. In the United 
States, for example, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish satellite television 
channels provide a steady diet of films from Egypt, Iran, and Turkey. 
On a much smaller level, the documentary VHS-Kahloucha (Nejib 
Belkadhi, 2006) is the story of the making of amateur filmmaker 
Moncef Kahloucha’s extremely low-budget films, shot on the streets 
of Kazmet, a poor district of Sousse in Tunisia. It begins with the 
arrival of a new copy of a Kahloucha film on VHS-tape in an expatri- 
ate Tunisian community in Italy and depicts how this message from 
home provides a kind of social glue bonding the community together 
and to the homeland. 

- F - 

FAIRUZ (aka FAYROUZ) (1935- ). Bom Nouhad Haddad, vocal 
legend and Lebanese diva Fairuz is well known as the star of the 
Rahbani Brothers’ theater. Fairuz’ s husband, Assi Rahbani, and 
his brother Mansour, brought three of their plays to the screen — all 
directed by Christian Egyptians: first Youssef Chahine’s The Ring 
Seller (1965), followed by Henri Barakat’s Exile (1967) and The 
Guardian’s Daughter (1968). Despite the Christian ideological un- 
dercurrent, the instantly recognizable songs of Fairuz are ubiquitous 


in the soundtracks of contemporary Lebanese films, evoking wide- 
spread nostalgia. Her son, Ziad Rahbani, continues the theatrical and 
music tradition. See also BELOUFA, FAROUK. 

nually in February in Tehran on the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian 
Revolution. Since its inception in 1982, the film festival, organized 
by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, has sought to screen 
the best of Iranian as well as international films. Films may be en- 
tered for competition in seven categories: Seeking the Truth (spiritual 
cinema), Eye for the Real (Iranian Documentary cinema— long 
film), Eye for the Real (Iranian Documentary cinema— medium and 
short film), Contending for Symorgh (Iranian Feature films), Eastern 
Vista (Asian cinema). World Panorama (international feature films), 
and World Panorama (international short films). The festival also 
showcases several related events, such as retrospectives of famous 
directors, special screenings, guest screenings, and tributes to actors 
and directors. 

FALAFEL ( 2006 ). The first feature of successful short-film director 
Michel Kammoun centers upon Toufic, who has become obsessed 
with an urgent sense of carpe diem. Trying desperately to live each 
day to its fullest, however, leads Toufic repeatedly to confront the 
tension persisting in postwar Beirut. Shot prior to the assassination 
of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, edited during the 
ensuing withdrawal of Syrian troops, and premiering one month af- 
ter the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Falafel is eerily 

in 1983 as the executive assistant department of the Ministry of 
Culture and Islamic Guidance to support all aspects of filmmaking 
in Iran by giving low-interest loans to filmmakers, supplying raw 
materials and loan equipment, providing production and postproduc- 
tion facilities, offering subtitling services, and aiding in the distribu- 
tion of Iranian cinema both nationally and internationally. The FCF 
provides government subsidies and production licenses in addition to 
overseeing script reviews for different subjects such as children’s and 

FARES, NADIA • 1 45 

young adults’ films. Sacred Defense films, and spiritual cinema. The 
Festivals Department of the FCF organizes and sponsors the Fajr 
International Film Festival and the Isfahan International Festival 
of Films for Children and Young Adults. The FCF is the exclusive 
importer of films for theatrical and video release in Iran. 

FARDIN, MOHAMMAD-ALI (1930-2000). A former wrestling 
champion, Fardin was the biggest star in Iran’s cinema during the 
1960s and early 1970s. He acted and sometimes directed films in the 
luti genre, playing the proletarian rogue with the heart of gold, who 
rejects Westernization and materialism yet does not challenge the 
status quo ( Champion of Champions [Siamak Yasami, 1965]; The 
Treasures of Gharun [Yasami, 1965]). He made only one film after 
the Iranian Revolution of 1979: The Damned (Iraj Qaderi, 1982), 
an attempt to update the luti character in the newly installed Islamic 
Republic and in the context of the war with Iraq. Banned from 
further film acting along with many other prerevolutionary actors, 
Fardin nevertheless stayed in Iran, where the “King of Hearts,” as he 
was affectionately known after his 1968 film of that name, remained 
popular; his funeral in central Tehran attracted a crowd estimated at 
20 , 000 . 

FARES, NADIA (1962- ). Bom in Bern, Switzerland, to a Swiss 
mother and an Egyptian father, Fares received an elementary school 
teaching degree in 1985, then went to Cairo in 1986, before studying 
filmmaking at New York University, from which she received an 
MFA in 1995. During this period, Fares made fictional shorts, and in 
1990, she directed Sugarblues , a medium-length film about a woman 
who force-feeds her diabetic husband to death. Fares began working 
for French-Swiss television in 1993; then, in 1996, directed her first 
narrative feature. Honey and Ashes, a Tunisian-Swiss co-production 
that interweaves the lives of three very different Tunisian women 
who bond on the basis of their gender-related mistreatment. The 
film exposes the continuing influence of patriarchy in all aspects of 
postcolonial Tunisian society. Naima, in her mid-40s, is a divorced 
doctor living with her young daughter, whom she has decided to send 
to boarding school. Flashbacks triggered by the daughter’s questions 
about sexuality soon reveal that Naima was formerly a student in the 

1 46 • FARID, SAMIR 

Soviet Union, where she had fallen in love with a Russian but was 
forced by tradition into an arranged marriage in Tunisia. Naima’s 
struggles become the narrative and thematic link between the film’s 
other two central characters, Leila (a university student spurned by 
her lover and forced into prostitution to pay for her studies) and 
Amina (a musician whose jealous, eccentric husband abuses her 
physically and psychologically, and finally breaks her hand). As their 
stories are interwoven by montage and chance meetings, the women 
come collectively to represent human longing for self-determination 
and meaningful relationships under conditions of violence and insta- 
bility. The film supplies no resolution, but offers hope in the form of 
female solidarity. 

FARID, SAMIR (1943- ). This contemporary Egyptian film critic 
studied at the Higher Cinema Institute in Cairo during the 1960s 
and became a strong advocate of realism, dedicating himself to sup- 
porting the New Realists of the 1980s, a subject on which he has 
published widely. Farid was a founding member of the New Cinema 
Group, formed in 1969, which advocated a more socially committed 
cinema. The group pushed for the formation of a scholarly magazine 
(in contrast to the typical fanzines), entitled Al-Sinima. Farid dis- 
missed the popular cinema that was common prior to the revolution 
(and which was limited by its derivation from theater), and has been 
critical of the commercial cinema that has dominated the industry, 
maintaining that only “serious” artistic cinema can depict social and 
political issues adequately— a view generally held by most Egyptian 
critics and intellectuals. (The serious study of commercial Egyptian 
cinema has been undertaken by scholars such as Walter Armbrust, 
Viola Shafik, Joel Gordon, and Kay Dickinson.) 

FARMANARA, RAHMAN (1943- ). Born in Isfahan, Iran, Farmanara 
was 16 when his father sent him off to study film directing in Lon- 
don, but he decided to pursue acting instead. There, Farmanara 
started writing articles and reports for an Iranian film magazine, 
Tehran Journal. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where he 
completed a degree in cinema at the University of Southern Califor- 
nia. His filmmaking career began with a short, Nowruz and Caviar 
(1969), followed by a first feature, The House of Mrs. Ghamar in 


1973. At a time of considerable economic difficulties for the Iranian 
film industry, the viability of which had been affected, as in many 
Middle Eastern countries, by Western domination of the cinema 
market, Farmanara’s film marked an attempt to imitate the domi- 
nant Hollywood industry’s style in a family melodrama laced with 
comedy. Prince Ehtejab (1975) remains Farmanara’s best-known 
prerevolutionary work; an account of the dissolute and desultory life 
of a Qajar prince, the film could easily be read as an allegory of the 
corruption and decadence of the Pahlavi monarchy. He also produced 
The Report (Abbas Kiarostami, 1977). 

Farmanara left Iran following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, 
moving first to France, then to Canada, where he established a film 
distribution company, Spectrafilm. Despite his return to Iran in 1990, 
he devoted himself to the family textile business, while a series of 
scripts were rejected by the Muslim authorities, and did not make 
another film until Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine (2000), 
in which Farmanara plays a character resembling himself: a director 
who returns to filmmaking after a long hiatus. Smell of Camphor 
comments on key questions of life and death through the lens of art 
and artists, as the director’s quest for meaning takes him through 
despair, disappointment, resentment, and a near-death experience, 
toward hope and celebration of life and art. The film offers a clear if 
implicit critique of the contemporary Iranian government, especially 
its interpretation of Islam. Despite that, it was quickly granted a 
screening permit in Iran, starkly contrasting battles with government 
censorship that have otherwise marked Farmanara’s intermittent 
career. His Tall Shadows of the Wind (1978) was banned by both 
the Pahlavi and Islamic governments, while A House Built on Water 
(2002), concerning an abortion doctor, was also banned. 

FARROKHZAD, FOROUGH (1935-1967). Born in Tehran into a 
career military family, and donning controversial labels such as “fe- 
male divorcee” and “feminist,” Farrokhzad left a unique signature on 
Iranian literature and cinema. Her formal education ended in ninth 
grade, after which she learned the conventional skills expected at the 
time of young upper-middle -class Iranian woman: sewing and paint- 
ing. Farrokhzad fell in love with her cousin, Parviz Shapour, and was 
married to him at 17. The marriage ended two years later, and she 


moved back to Tehran with their only child, Kamyar; her poem, A 
Poem for You , was written for him. Themes of marriage, divorce, and 
motherhood, particularly the entrapment of the female spirit and the 
poet’s spirit within social roles, figure prominently in her first col- 
lection of poetry. The Captive (1955). In 1956, Farrokhzad traveled 
through the United Kingdom and Europe and published her second 
collection of poetry. The Wall. In 1958, she met Ebrahim Golestan, 
a multitalented Iranian filmmaker and intellectual with whom she 
would have a life-long personal and professional relationship. Her 
controversial collection. Rebellion , published that year, includes 
several poems that speak candidly about feminine loneliness, desire, 
and sexuality. 

Farrokhzad first became involved in filmmaking while working 
with Golestan at his newly established studio, the Golestan Film 
Unit, where she experimented with acting, producing, directorial 
assistance, and editing Golestan’ s documentary, A Fire , about a 
1958 oil well fire near Ahvaz. Farrokhzad’s legacy to Iranian cinema 
rests primarily on the enormously influential documentary short. The 
House Is Black (1962), made in 12 days at a leper colony in Tabriz. 
Other than The House Is Black, Farrokhzad’s contribution to cin- 
ema remains sparse, although she continued to write poetry. Abbas 
Kiarostami not only titled his film The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) 
after one of Farrokhzad’s poems, but the poem itself became the 
centerpiece of a critical (and highly controversial) part of that film. 
Another Birth (1964) explores her passionate exultation and equally 
passionate anticipation of doom. Farrokhzad died at age 32 on 14 
February 1967 in Tehran of head injuries from a violent automobile 
accident. She is buried in Zahiro-Doleh in Tehran. Her fifth collec- 
tion of poetry. Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season, 
was published posthumously. An experimental documentary about 
her life and work. The Mirror of the Soul: The Forough Farrokhzad 
Trilogy, directed by Nasser Saffarian, was released in 2004. 

FERCHIOU, RACHID (1941- ). A 1970s forerunner of Tunisian 
film and television, Ferchiou studied film in Berlin from 1959 to 
1963, then trained with French and Italian television for three years, 
returning to Tunisia to work for Radiodiffusion Television Tunisi- 
enne as a producer of variety shows before directing the features 


Yusra (1971), The Children of Boredom (1975), Autumn ’82 (1990), 
Check and Mate (1995), and The Accident (2008). In addition to his 
prolific production work, Ferchiou has been active as a screenwriter, 
film festival curator and judge, charge de mission, and conseiller 
culturel for Tunisia’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs. 

FERHATI, JILALI (1948- ). A pioneer of Moroccan cinema, Ferhati 
is an actor in theater and film, radio host, filmmaker, and direc- 
tor of television films. Fie studied literature, sociology, and theater 
in France and began directing with two films written by his wife, 
Farida Benlyazid: A Hole in the Wall (1978), followed by Reed 
Dolls (1981), a study of female oppression. Later features include 
The Beach of Lost Children (1991), Make-Believe Horses (1995), 
Tresses (2000), and Memory in Detention (2004). Ferhati’s films 
often deal with the subjugation of women in Moroccan patriarchy, 
whether in the case of child marriage ( Reed Dolls), out-of-wedlock 
pregnancy (The Beach of Lost Children), or rape (Tresses). Make- 
Believe Horses traces a variety of individuals through their search to 
leave Morocco for Europe— escape attempts that end in disaster and 
destroyed dreams. Silence and images often speak louder than words 
in Ferhati’s work. 

FERTILE MEMORY (1980). Tracing the lives of two Palestinian 
women, one traditional, one modern, this documentary initiated 
Michel Khleifi’s cinematic examination, continued in his Wedding 
in Galilee (1987), of the social contradictions of Palestinian nation- 
alism as it is experienced and understood by women. Sahar Khalifeh 
is an author and university professor whose writings and decision not 
to remarry after her divorce position her intellectually as a feminist. 
Romiyeh Farah, an inhabitant of the small village of Yefya, engages 
in everyday chores and espouses conservative views about women’s 
role and appearance, while refusing compensation for her familial 
lands expropriated by Israel. Despite their class and geographical 
differences. Fertile Memory connects the women through a montage 
marked by parallel juxtaposition of interviews and the symbolic in- 
sertion of archival footage of a destroyed Palestinian village. Thus, 
the film foregrounds the women’s common history of Nakba and 
Israeli Occupation, while analyzing their social dissimilarities and 

150 • FILMER, CEMiL 

alternative, female responses to heroic -masculine narratives, and 
practices of resistance. 

FILMER, CEMEL (1895-1990). One of the earliest producers of 
Turkish cinema, Filmer (an adopted name self-consciously denoting 
“filmmaker”) started as a photographer for the Ottoman army, for 
which he worked under Fuat Uzkinay at the Army Photography and 
Film Center shooting newsreels. During the early years of the Turk- 
ish Republic, Filmer ran several cinemas, and by 1951, after the ad- 
vent of Ye§il<;am, he had launched a production company for which 
he produced a series of successful films. These include The Brave 
Selim Is Crying (Sami Ayanoglu, 1952), a historical drama about the 
Ottoman sultan, Selim I, and If a Woman Loves (Atif Yilmaz, 1955), 
a psychological melodrama concerning failed love. 

FILM FESTIVALS. Because the Middle Eastern arena of film dis- 
tribution and exhibition is controlled largely by Hollywood, and 
because film production there has been dominated by, first, colonial 
and, later, transnational powers, international film festivals have 
been one of the few means by which indigenous and auteur films 
from Middle Eastern countries and their diasporas may reach audi- 
ences. Such festivals usually take place in Western countries (Cannes 
in France, Venice and Locarno in Italy, Berlin in Germany, Rotter- 
dam in The Netherlands, Toronto in Canada, and New York in the 
United States being some of the most important), travel to which is 
financially and, often, politically prohibitive to Middle Eastern spec- 
tators, for whom many of these films are at least partly intended. The 
contradictions marking this situation are dramatized in Alexandria, 
Again and Forever (Youssef Chahine, 1990), in which the protago- 
nist (Chahine) remembers earlier successes and slights at the Berlin 
Film Festival and desires recognition at Cannes despite its history of 
largely ignoring filmmakers from the Arab world. Success at such 
film festivals provided a strong marker of the growing international 
acclaim for Iranian cinema during the 1990s. This is particularly 
true of the work of celebrated auteur Abbas Kiarostami, reaching 
its peak with the award of Cannes’s grand prize, the Palme d’or, to 
Taste of Cherry in 1997. Indeed, some criticism has been directed at 
Kiarostami for choosing subjects that cater to festival audience tastes 


at the expense of addressing ostensibly more pressing political issues, 
such as the position of women in Iran; some of the director’s more 
recent films, however, such as Ten (2002), while still applauded by 
cineastes, have somewhat disarmed this critique. 

Recognizing the important function served by such festivals, pro- 
moters of Middle Eastern cinema have over the years established 
them on home territory. The earliest and most longstanding of these 
is the pan-African Carthage Film Festival, founded in 1966 and 
held biannually in the Tunisian city, which has consistently show- 
cased films from the developing world. Other festivals have followed 
across the region, notably the Fajr International Film Festival in 
Iran, sponsored by the Farabi Cinema Foundation, which also 
sponsors the Isfahan International Festival of Films for Children 
and Young Adults, and the Tehran International Animation Fes- 
tival, also in Iran. Unlike the above, some regional festivals have 
mostly become venues for Western products, especially in countries 
like Syria (Damascus International Film Festival), Morocco (Mar- 
rakech Film Festival), Algeria (the International Sahara Film Festi- 
val, begun in 2003 and held in Western Sahara or nearby refugee 
camps in Algeria), Turkey (Antalya Film Festival), and the United 
Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) (Dubai International Film Festival, Gulf 
Film Festival, Middle East International Film Festival) that recently 
have demonstrated strong interest in establishing film industries 
(U.A.E.) or reviving faltering ones (Morocco, Syria, and Turkey). 
Similarly, the Cairo International and Alexandria Film Festivals in 
Egypt, the Beirut International Film Festival and the European Film 
Festival in Lebanon, and the Jerusalem Film Festival in Israel 
basically are world cinema venues, even while also screening some 
relevant national works. 

The original impetus for these festivals can still be found in 
smaller, local festivals, such as the Mobile Cinema in Palestine, 
sponsored by the Cinema Production and Distribution Center run 
by Rashid Masharawi; the Women’s Film Festival, sponsored by 
Shashat, and occasional festivals held at the Al-Kasaba Theatre 
and Cinematheque, both also in Palestine; the Forough Festival of 
Women’s Films in Tehran; the annual Kish Documentary Film Fes- 
tival, also in Iran; the Ismaili Film Festival for Documentaries and 
Short Films, hosted in Egypt; the 1001 Documentary Films Festival, 


the Hisar Short Film Festival, and the Golden Saffron Film Festival 
in Turkey; the Jordan Short Film Festival, begun in 2005; the Docu- 
Days festival in Beirut, which is the longest running festival in the 
region devoted strictly to documentary; Beirut DC’s Ayam Beirut 
Al-Cinema’iya and Ne a Beyrouth, featuring productions from the 
region; first Ayloul and now Home Works, also in Lebanon, have 
featured avant-garde works; and the Baghdad Film Festival in Iraq, 
which has persisted unevenly since 1966, notwithstanding wartime 
impediments, and has shifted historically from promoting commer- 
cial to documentary and auteur films. Such festivals support indig- 
enous, noncommercial, and auteur filmmaking, and may thus attract 
a broader range of spectators than commercial festivals, even as their 
respective audiences may not be as large. 

The promotion of such films outside the Middle East has been 
supported by the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, 
established in the United States during the early 1990s; the Arab 
Film Festival, begun by Arab Film Distribution, also in the United 
States; the Palestine Film Festival, which travels to Boston, Chicago, 
Houston, Toronto, Beirut, and London (where it is coordinated by the 
Palestine Film Foundation); and the Canada Palestine Film Festi- 
val, launched in 2007. The Israeli international film festival, Israfest, 
promotes Israeli industry cinema in North America. 

FILM SCHOOLS. As with film production facilities, the conditions 
of colonialism and transnationalism have mediated and, more often 
than not, hindered the development of film educational institutions 
throughout the Middle East. Historically, this has meant that aspir- 
ing film workers obtain training either through apprenticeship and/or 
gradual advancement within particular industries, especially those 
in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Iran, or, with available 
funding, by studying at film schools abroad, primarily in Europe, the 
former Soviet Union, and the United States. Such schools include 
the Institut des hautes etudes cinematographiques, the Etudes superi- 
eures cinematographiques, the Institut Franca is de cinematographic, 
the Institut de formation cinematographique, the Louis Lumiere 
School of Cinematography (aka Ecole technique de photographie 
et de cinematographie; Ecole nationale; Vaugirard Film School), 
the Conservatoire libre du cinema francais, the Centre d’etudes et 


de recherches de l’image et du son, and the Fondation Europeenne 
pour les metiers de Fimage et du son (“La Femis” — the national 
film school) in France, and the Institut national superieur des arts 
du spectacle et techniques de diffusion in Belgium, where many 
Maghrebi directors (as well as beur filmmakers) learned their craft; 
the Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow, 
which co-sponsored the training of numerous Syrian directors; the 
Czech Film Institute and the Filmov Akademie Muzickych Umenf 
in Prague, where several Algerian filmmakers have studied; the 
Bayerische Lehranstalt fur Lichtbildwesen in Munich, Germany, 
where several Turkish filmmakers received training, and the Munich 
Film Institute; the Centro Sperimentale de Cinematografia in Rome; 
the National Film School in Lodz, Poland; the London International 
Film School and the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in the United 
Kingdom; the University of Toronto in Canada; and the University of 
California-Los Angeles, Boston University, and the American Film 
Institute in the United States. 

During the Algerian struggle for independence, the Front de 
Liberation Nationale (FLN) ran a film school for the Algerian 
government-in-exile in Tunisia that was headed by Rene Vautier, an 
FLN leader. During the postcolonial period, funding has been made 
available for the opening of film schools in some Middle Eastern 
countries. These include the Institut national du cinema d’ Alger and 
the Institut des sciences de F information et de la communication in 
Algeria; the Film Institute at Gammarth Studios in Tunisia; film 
training facilities at Kanzaman Studios in Ouzazarte, Morocco, 
started by Mohamed Asli, and on a larger scale at the more re- 
cently opened Marrakech Film School; the Cinema Production and 
Distribution Center in Ramallah, Palestine, established by Rashid 
Masharawi; the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, Iraq, which 
closed operations since the 1991 Gulf War; the Makhmalbaf Film 
House and the Islamic School of Cinema in Tehran, Iran, where there 
was also a film school during the 1930s run by Avanes Ohanian; the 
Higher Cinema Institute in Cairo, Egypt; and, in Beirut, the Lebanese 
American University, the University of the Holy Spirit (Kaslik), and, 
especially, the University of Saint Joseph. In Turkey, where the state 
initially was not interested in opening film schools or film libraries, 
the first film school, Mimar Sinan University’s Cinema and Televi- 


sion Institute, did not open until 1976; cinema training is also avail- 
able at various universities and private film academics, including the 
Istanbul University Film Center. In Israel, film schools have opened 
at Tel Aviv University, the Bezalel School of the Arts in Jerusalem 
(animation), Sapir College in Ashkelon, and the Ma’ale School of 
Television, Film, and the Arts in Jerusalem, while many Israelis have 
also opted to study abroad, for instance at New York University’s 
Tisch School of the Arts, as have Palestinians, especially in Canada 
and the United Kingdom. 

FLIRTATION OF GIRLS (1949). This Egyptian musical-comedy- 
romance directed by Anwar Wagdi stars Naguib El-Rihani as a 
downtrodden Arabic instructor, Hamam, who is called in to tutor 
the frivolous daughter of the Pasha, Layla (Layla Murad). The film 
carries a spectacular ensemble of actors, including Yussuf Wahbi 
and Mohamed Abdel Wahab as themselves in a surreal ending. In a 
single night, Layla sets out to a nightclub (with a love struck Hamam 
in tow) to meet her boyfriend, discovers that he is a shameless wom- 
anizer, ends up in a car with a chivalrous pilot (Wagdi), and stumbles 
on the residence of Wahbi himself, where a full orchestra perfor- 
mance is about to take place, conducted by Abdel Wahab. Strangely 
accommodating of the odd pair, Wahbi offers Hamam some advice 
on the futility of cross-class relationships and thus finally brings 
Hamam, Layla, and everyone else to their senses, as the narrative 
is rushed to a tidy conclusion. The film has been canonized for the 
exemplary nature of its star performances and plotline consisting of a 
series of mistaken identities common to the genre. Although viewed 
with befuddling lightness and humor, the film also captures a time 
when Egypt and “Egyptian-ness” were comprised of a conglomera- 
tion of nationalities and class formations. 

FONDS SUD CINEMA. Since 1984, the French government has 
sought to support the influence of Francophonie in the global South, 
primarily by granting partial production aid to more than 400 films 
through a state funding vehicle, the Fonds Sud Cinema. The Fonds 
has supported Francophone filmmaking in the Maghreb, Fatin 
America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and other developing regions. Its 
aim is to form partnerships with filmmakers from Southern countries, 
and to foster the production of films that project a strong cultural 


identity. Fonds Sud Cinema monies are disbursed by the French Cen- 
tre national du cinema (CNC), Ministry of Culture and Communica- 
tion, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and cover feature, animation, 
and creative documentary projects intended for theatrical release 
in France and abroad. The average aid awarded per film is 1 10,000 
euros (not to exceed 152,000 euros); the funds are allocated to a pro- 
duction company established in France, since the greater part of the 
sum must be earmarked for postproduction in that country. In 2004, 
the French CNC, in partnership with the Intergovernmental Agency 
for Francophonie, improved its support schemes for screenwriting 
and writers-in-residence programs. 

FORD TRANSIT (2002). Hany Abu- Assad’s quasi documentary 

follows a charismatic West Bank cab driver as he avoids roadblocks, 
dodges bullets, and trades traffic reports with other drivers. The cam- 
era focuses mostly on the passengers: businessmen, religious lead- 
ers, elderly matrons, young women, and children covered with face 
paint. Through interviews and observations, some passengers insist 
that they are politically detached, but others have strong opinions to 
share: a Muslim leader unapologetically supports suicide bombers, 
leading to a contentious debate among fellow passengers. Human 
rights activist and Palestinian Authority spokeswoman, Hanan 
Ashrawi (also featured in Hanan Ashrawi: A Woman of Her Time 
[Mai Masri, 1995]), makes an appearance as a passenger, as does 
Israeli- American filmmaker B. Z. Goldberg, and Palestinian-Israeli 
political figure Azmi Bishara. The film offers ordinary Palestinians 
a chance to speak while representing their limited freedom of move- 
ment. The difficulty and futility of the Al-Aqsa Intifada’s impact 
on the physical landscape of the Occupied Palestinian Territories 
is highlighted, as it is in Abu-Assad’s other films, Rana’s Wedding 
(2002) and Paradise Now (2005). 

NECTION (2002). This independent documentary was directed 
by Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker, Samir. A Swiss-German coproduction, 
it examines the lives of five important Iraqi-Israeli writers and in- 
tellectuals of the political Left, four of whom emigrated from Iraq 
during the early 1950s, when the newly established State of Israel 


campaigned to recruit Jewish immigrants from neighboring Arab 
countries in an effort to boost its Jewish demographic and minimize 
its reliance upon Palestinian labor. Using archival footage from the 
period, Forget Baghdad also includes interviews with Shimon Bal- 
ias, Moshe (Moussa) JJouri, Sami Michael, Samir Naqqash, and the 
Israeli-born Ella Shohat, constructing a cinematic sense of historical 
movement and travel that characterizes the Mizrahi experience as at 
once exilic and diasporic. 

dently run film festival started in 1999 to celebrate Iranian film by 
and about women. It was named after Iran’s acclaimed poet and 
filmmaker, Forough Farrokhzad. 

FOULADKAR, ASSAD (1961- ). Born in Beirut to an Iranian 
family, Fouladkar studied theater in Lebanon and filmmaking at 
Boston University. He worked in the United States and Australia 
before returning to Lebanon, where he directed his first feature, 
When Maryam Spoke Out (2002). A keen producer, he convinced 
the Lebanese American University, where he teaches, to sponsor his 
productions. His second feature, Lebanese Tales, awaits release as 
of 2009. In 2004, the Sundance screenwriters lab selected his script- 
in-progress, The Cedar Tree, which Youssef Chahine had agreed to 
produce. In 2007, Fouladkar began working in Egypt on a sitcom, A 
Man and Six Women. 

Ruhollah Khomeini immediately after the Iranian Revolution in 

March 1979, this organization remains the largest of several religious 
foundations, wielding considerable economic power through a wide 
variety of financial and commercial interests. Initially established 
to manage equipment confiscated from interests tied to the Shah’s 
regime, the Foundation was responsible for running many cinemas 
throughout the 1980s. It also entered cinema production, specializing 
in Sacred Defense films and other socially conscious works, includ- 
ing Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s highly popular The Cyclist (1989) and 
Wedding of the Blessed (1989), and Rakshan Bani-Etemad’s Off 
Limits (1988). 


FOX, EYTAN (1964- ). Fox is one of a handful of Israeli directors 
whose films have been distributed widely outside Palestine-Israel. 
Attention to his work is warranted not so much by its aesthetic qual- 
ity, however, which is traditional by industry standards, but in light 
of its orientation toward an international “queer” audience. The inde- 
pendently produced Yossi & Jaggar (2002) broke Israeli cultural and 
institutional taboos by depicting same-sex relations between Israel 
Defense Forces soldiers, while Walk on Water (2004) extended the 
metaphor to Germany, with male homosexuality made a founding 
impetus for resistance both to Palestinian oppression and the failure 
to root out and punish Nazi Holocaust perpetrators. Fox’s discourse 
on sexuality can be seen as reactionary, however, in that it rehearses 
the classic psychoanalytic notion that homosexuality is a neurosis 
bound to manifest antisocial behavior and potential violence. Hence 
The Bubble (2006), in which a gay Palestinian, frustrated with both 
Zionism and sexual conservatism within his occupied village, straps 
on explosives and kills both himself and his Jewish-Israeli lover out- 
side a Tel Aviv cafe. 


LIBERATION FRONT. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a 
Cinema Service was attached to the FLN, a left-socialist formation 
and Algeria’s main anticolonial organization, during the struggle for 
independence from France. Its function was to train filmmakers in the 
art of political cinema that would support the liberation movement. 
A central presence in the Service was French activist Rene Vautier, 
who would direct Algeria in Flames in 1959. Although several FLN 
filmmakers died in battle, others went on to work in the postinde- 
pendence film industry, notably Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina and 
Ahmed Rachedi. 

FRONTIERS OF DREAMS AND FEARS (2001). Co-directed by 
Mai Masri and Jean Chamoun, this documentary analyzes the 
Palestinian refugee experience by featuring a pen-pal relationship 
between two Palestinian teenage girls who live in camps separated 
by the Israeli-Lebanese border. Manar, who lives in Shatila refugee 


camp near Beirut, visits the ancestral Palestinian village of Mona, 
who lives in Dheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. There she collects 
some earth and video footage to mail to her displaced friend, thus ex- 
emplifying the contradictory grounding and dispersal of Palestinian 
national memory. The film is framed by the Israeli withdrawal from 
southern Lebanon in May 2000, which enables Mona and Manar to 
greet one another face-to-face for the first time from opposite sides 
of the high-security, barbed- wire border. The film’s somber closing, 
marked by the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in November 2000, 
places the girls’ hopes and optimism in stark relief, as Manar is por- 
trayed with her peers throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers. 

FUTURE TELEVISON (aka Future TV). A satellite station based 
in Beirut, Future TV began broadcasting shortly after the Lebanese 
Civil War ended. Rafik Hariri opened the station in 1993 as one 
project among many aimed at reorienting the national compass and 
resituating Lebanon as an economic player in the region. Future 
TV undeniably served as a tool to advance Hariri’s reconstructionist 
agenda and could never fully be dissociated from his political posi- 
tion as prime minister. Future TV presents a pro-Western, pan-Leba- 
nese perspective that has followed television trends in the United 
States and Europe, with reality contestant shows such as SuperStar. 
Its programming is primarily entertainment-oriented and provides 
content that is more provocative than its Gulf rivals, but it also offers 
regionally popular talk shows. The station has also provided employ- 
ment for several independent filmmakers, including Nigol Bezjian, 
Rabih Mroue, and Akram Zaatari. Since Hariri’s assassination, the 
station has largely become a mouthpiece for the Future Movement, 
which is affiliated with the March 14 Alliance. 

- G - 

GAMAL, SAMIA (1924-1994). Bom in Wana, Egypt, and raised 
near the Khan El Khalil bazaar in Cairo, this world-renowned belly 
dancer began her performance career in a 1940s Cairo nightclub 
owned by Badia Masabni, a highly influential Syrian-bom dancer, 
who also discovered Tahiyya Carioca. During the late 1940s 


and early 1950s, Gamal met and began co-starring with Syrian- 
Lebanese singer-composer Farid al-Atrache (who became her lover) 
in several Egyptian musicals, in which she played the love inter- 
est. These included: The Genie Lady (Henri Barakat, 1949), the 
acknowledged inspiration for the orientalist U.S. television shows l 
Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched ; It’s You 1 Love (Ahmed Badra- 
khan, 1949); Last Lie (Badrakhan, 1950); Come and Say Hello 
(Helmi Rafla, 1951); Don’t Tell Anyone (Barakat, 1952); and A Glass 
and a Cigarette (Niazi Mustafa, 1955). 

Like her contemporary and rival, Tahiyya Carioca, Gamal’ s belly 
dancing combined Western forms, including ballet and flamenco, 
but Gamal’ s innovation was a modern improvisational style that in- 
volved freer movement and seemed less formal; she was also the first 
belly dancer to wear high-heeled shoes while performing. In 1949, 
King Farouk proclaimed her the National Dancer of Egypt. Thus 
did she gamer international attention, soon enjoying a nightclub run 
in New York City’s Latin Quarter, becoming the subject of a series 
of Gjon Mili photographs that appeared in the 24 March 1952 issue 
of Life magazine, and featuring in the French cinematic production 
of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Jacques Becker, 1954). After a 
failed marriage to a Texas businessman claiming bogus oil wealth, 
she returned to Egypt, where she married actor Rushdi Abaza, and in 
1959, was cast alongside Omar Sharif as a benevolent government 
spy posing as a belly dancer in Rendezvous with a Stranger (Atef 
Salem). Gamal continued performing with relative consistency well 
into her seventies, almost until her death from cancer. 

GAMMARTH STUDIOS. The Gammarth Studios were established in 
a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia, in 1966 as a somewhat belated part of the 
state film organization Societe anonyme Tunisienne de production 
et d’expansion cinematographiques’ agenda to promote indigenous 
film production. Gammarth in particular was responsible for the pro- 
duction and postproduction of Tunisian films. Because its laboratory 
could only process black-and-white stock, however, many Tunisian 
filmmakers interested in color shooting were compelled to pursue post- 
production elsewhere. By the time the studio was equipped for color 
processing, the facility was in disarray, and, due to financial constraints 
and eventual bankruptcy, it was closed in the early 1980s. 


GEMAYEL, BASHIR (1947-1982). Gemayel was the charismatic 
son of the Maronite patriarch, Pierre Gemayel, who founded the 
Lebanese nationalist Al-Kitaab Party in 1936, after visiting Nazi 
Germany. As head of both Al-Kitaab and the Phalange militia during 
the Lebanese Civil War, Bashir vociferously called for the ousting 
of all Palestinians from Lebanon. Shortly after he became president- 
elect, a Maronite Christian member of the Syrian Social Nationalist 
Party assassinated Bashir and 25 others in a bomb blast. Presuming 
Palestinian responsibility for the assassination, however. Phalange 
forces attacked the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The resulting 
slaughter of thousands of men, women, and children is recounted by 
some of the perpetrators in the confessional documentary Massaker 
(Monika Borgmann/Lokman Slim, 2005), and Israel’s role in the 
attack is analyzed in the animation feature Waltz, with Bashir (Ari 
Folman, 2008). Amine Gemayel, Bashir’s less charismatic brother, 
subsequently assumed the presidency. Today, Bashir remains idol- 
ized by many Maronites, and East Beirut hosts several monuments 
that memorialize him. 

GENDER AND SEXUALITY. Throughout the Middle East, gender 
and sexuality are often treated indirectly or as topics too culturally 
sensitive to deal with head-on in the mass medium of cinema. Middle 
Eastern cinema does not differ in this respect from pre- 1950s West- 
ern cinemas, in which depictions of homosexuality, female sexuality 
and lesbianism, and gender role transgression were subjected to strict 
codification and censorship. Yet, Middle Eastern understandings of 
sex/gender difference, like those regarding women, diverge from 
those in the West, both historically and culturally, and are affected 
in modern times by the experience of colonialism. Under the latter, 
Middle Eastern sexual practices and gender roles were mediated in 
the West by orientalism, which at once exoticized and denigrated 
them— a history rehearsed in films such as The Sheik (George Mel- 
ford, 1921) and Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962), and, in 
updated fashion, by the Iranian-supported Afghan film Osama (Sid- 
diq Barmak, 2003), and the Israeli The Bubble (Eytan Fox, 2006), 
as well as in the industry cinemas of Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran (in 
particular the Iranian luti genre), and critiqued in auteur films such 
as the Syrian Dreams of the City (Mohammad Malas, 1983) and 


the Italian-supported Turkish diasporic film. Harem Suare (Ferzan 
Ozpetek, 1999). In Turkish (post-)Ye§il<;am cinema, furthermore, 
some traditional sex-gender practices are identified as social ills to 
be modernized. 

An ensuing effect of these constraints has been a tendency to posi- 
tion sex-gender difference allegorically, whereupon it figures either 
as a symbol of social decay or as a beacon of national liberation, but 
is seldom analyzed in its own right. Examples include the Tunisian 
film Man of Ashes (Nouri Bouzid, 1986); the Moroccan film The 
Closed Door (Abdelkader Lagtaa, 2000); the Iranian films Baran 
(Majid Majidi, 2001) and Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006); the Turkish 
films Heads and Tails (Ugur Yiicel, 2003) and The Edge of Heaven 
(Fatih Akin, 2007), the latter a German co-production; the Israeli 
films Walk on Water (Fox, 2004) and Secrets (Avi Nesher, 2007), the 
latter involving a lesbian relationship in the Jewish orthodox com- 
munity; and the Lebanese films When Maryam Spoke Out (Assad 
Fouladkar, 2002), Caramel (Nadine Labaki, 2007), and The Lost 
Man (Danielle Arbid, 2007), which pursues an atypically hard erotic 
edge. Such films, largely auteur productions, are, with the exception 
of Turkey, frequently censured in their “home” countries for their 
perceived offense to dominant sensibilities. In contrast, whole series 
of Turkish films have placed gender and sexuality at their narrative 
centers. The “woman film” genre of the 1980s featured dominant 
female characters who are sexually free and/or challenge societal 
norms without being punished in the filmic narrative, and many 
late and post-Ye^il^am films focus on lesbian, gay, and transgender 
relationships. Such films have not been censored, and aside from a 
handful of recent diasporic films, almost all have been produced, 
distributed, and exhibited in Turkey. 

Most other Middle Eastern films that have offered serious analysis 
of sex/gender difference are international coproductions involving 
European or North American funding, and also directed by au- 
teurs— many of them exilic and diasporic filmmakers — engaging 
experimental aesthetics in order to integrate issues of homosexuality, 
female sexuality and lesbianism, and gender transgression with ques- 
tions of political transformation. Examples include the Palestinian 
films Measures of Distance (Mona Hatoum, 1988) and The Milky 
Way (Ali Nassar, 1997), the latter of which advocates the importance 

162 • GENRES 

of sensuality amidst political difficulty; the Egyptian Alexandria, 
Again and Forever (Youssef Chahine, 1990) and Mercedes (Yousry 
Nasrallah, 1993); the Turkish film Steam: The Turkish Bath (Oz- 
petek, 1997), concerning an Italian who discovers his homosexuality 
when visiting Turkey on business; the Lebanese Red Chewing Gum 
(Akram Zaatari, 2001); Bedwin Flacker (Nadia El Fani, 2002); 
and Satin Rouge (Raja Amari, 2002), both French-supported films 
directed by Tunisian women; the Iranian Women’s Prison (Manijeh 
Hekmat, 2002) and Tahmineh Milani’s Two Women (1999) and 
The Hidden Half (200 1 ), the latter of which led, briefly, to Milani’s 
imprisonment; and the Israeli diasporic documentary Zero Degrees 
of Separation (Elle Flanders, 2005), about two Israeli-Palestinian 
couples, one lesbian, one gay male. Many of these films also faced 
regional censorship— and misunderstanding in the West. Despite in- 
creasing conservatism in the Egyptian film industry during the 2000s, 
the blockbuster. The Yacoubian Building (Marwan Hamed, 2006), 
also dealt integrally with homosexuality, yet through melodramatic 
conventions that violently recontain its partly sympathetic portrayal. 

GENRES. The film industries of the Middle East are, like Holly- 
wood, designed primarily to produce popular, somewhat formulaic, 
entertainment based on the appeal of familiar dramatic structures, 
stars, and stereotypes. However, such formula films, or, genres, may 
change over time— often referred to as generic revision or trans- 
formation— thus interacting differently with society and audiences 
under shifting historical conditions. In addition, individual films and 
film movements, produced within or alongside the major industries, 
occasionally adopt a realist aesthetic that itself effectively consti- 
tutes a genre, with recognizable conventions that are, however, often 
more socially critical, less dependent on stars, with less predictable 
characters, and less oriented toward escapism. Nevertheless, realism 
may coexist with melodrama in industrial productions, as it clearly 
does at times in Egypt, and in Turkey’s Ye§il^am. Genre cinema is 
clearly contrasted and frequently opposed by art or auteurist cinema, 
although major art-film directors such as Youssef Chahine have 
made genre films within and without the industry. 

Like other world cinemas, the traditional genres of the industries 
of Egypt, Israel, Iran, and Turkey are comedies, melodramas, and, 

GENRES • 163 

in the former three instances, action-adventure films. These may 
overlap with conventions of the musical, typical of melodrama in 
that the narrative is to some degree subsumed by spectacle, and dif- 
ferent musical sub-genres appear in different countries. Thus, the 
belly dancing film has flourished primarily in Egypt, where it has 
launched the careers of major stars, such as Samia Gamal, Tahi- 
yya Carioca, Hind Rustom, and Souad Hosni— who stars in the 
blockbuster. Watch Out for Zuzu (Hassan El-Imam, 1972), which 
revises the earlier formula. After early success exporting musicals to 
other parts of the Arab world, there has been a recent upswing in the 
production of Egyptian musicals. The Egyptian industry, sometimes 
referred to as “Hollywood on the Nile,” has, perhaps unfairly, been 
criticized for undue imitation of Hollywood, partly for its reliance on 
generic formulas. 

In Israel, the bourekas film, a blend of music and comedy depict- 
ing working-class Mizrahi stereotypes, flourished in the 1960s, the 
most famous example being Sallach Shabbati (Ephraim Kishon, 
1964), and was somewhat revised in the subsequent decade in films 
such as The House on Chelouche Street (Moshe Mizrahi, 1973) and 
Kazablan (Menachem Golan, 1973) — the country’s first full-scale 
musical. In Iran, the luti film focused on the honorable rogue who 
fought for his honor and implicitly opposed Western influences. The 
films of Samuel Khachikian are typical, and the genre was revised 
by Massud Kimiai, starting with Qeysar (1969), in the late 1960s. 
Luti films fell into disfavor after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 
and were partially replaced by the new war, or Sacred Defense, 
film genre that arose out of the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. Focusing 
originally on the battle at the front, the genre expanded to empha- 
size mourning for the missing soldier, as exemplified in the films of 
Ebrahim Hatamikia. In Turkey, the Ycsilcam industry flourished 
from the 1950s through the 1990s, producing many action-adventure 
films and some musicals. Rural melodramas were popular in the early 
Ycsilcam period, exemplified by the work of Liitfi O. Akad. Other 
genres and sub-genres flourished at later periods: child melodramas 
following the success of Little Ay$e (Memduh Un, 1960) during the 
1960s, sex films featuring actresses such as Zerrin Egeliler during 
the 1970s, and women’s films, such as Mine (Atif Ydmaz, 1982) 
during the 1980s. 


Genre melodramas and comedies have also been made in other 
areas of the Middle East, sometimes, as occasionally in Morocco, 
in imitation of the Egyptian model. One might also extend the term 
to less commercially driven cinema. In Lebanon, for example, films 
that respond to the Lebanese Civil Wars— the very varied works of 
Jocelyn Saab, Randa Chahal Sabbagh, Mohamad Soueid, Philippe 
Aractingi, Walid Raad, and many others— could be constructed into 
a genre, although their typically more experimental, documentary, 
and/or self-conscious stylistics often preclude them from such des- 
ignation. In Algeria, the earliest postindependence films focused 
almost exclusively on the liberation struggle, constituting a distinct 
group of films that could be analyzed in terms of genre. In Israel, 
Holocaust films, often made outside the industry, also form a distinct 
cinematic genre. Finally, the category of art films, typically made 
with co-production funding from Europe, tends to mix realist and 
generic qualities in order to attract film festival audiences and wider 
distribution outside their countries of origin. 

GERSTEL, YULIE COHEN (1956- ). Hailing from an elite Israeli 
family and trained in communication arts at the New York Institute of 
Technology, this independent filmmaker has directed four personal 
documentaries about Jewish coming-to-consciousness regarding the 
Israeli Occupation and the contradictions of Zionism. My Terror- 
ist (2002) explores Gerstel’s feelings as she engages with, and ulti- 
mately forgives, an imprisoned Palestinian who is partly responsible 
for a London bus bombing in which she was injured while working as 
a stewardess for El-Al. My Land Zion (2004) traces Gerstel’s painful 
process of learning that her parents and grandparents were directly 
involved in implementing the Nakba. My Brother (2007) follows 
Gerstel’s attempt to locate and communicate with her estranged 
brother, who joined a Jewish ultraorthodox sect in Jerusalem, thus 
alienating himself from his secular family. My Israel (2008) reprises 
Gerstel’s earlier films, portraying her attempt to free from prison the 
Palestinian involved in the bus bombing, to question the founding 
myths of Israel, and to reconcile with her brother. 

GHAFFARI, FARROKH (1921-2006). This acclaimed Iranian 
New Wave film director established the National Iranian Film 


Society (NIFS) in 1949 at the Iran Bastan Museum in Tehran as an 
organization instrumental in introducing world cinema as well as 
noncommercial, artistic, and alternative cinema to Iran. Ghaffari and 
the NIFS brought two critical new engagements to Iranian cinema: 
social and political themes and the infusion of literature into the 
cinema. Ghaffari’s debut feature. South of the City (1958), portrayed 
the urban poverty of Tehran’s south side, while his The Night of 
the Hunchback (1965) adapted a story from The Thousand and One 
Nights. These innovations would find their future use in the 1960s 
cinema of social realism and articulate literariness that variously 
characterizes the path-breaking work of directors such as Forough 
Farrokhzad, Ebrahim Golestan, and Dariush Mehrjui. 

GFIALEM, ALI (1943- ). Born in Algeria, Ghalem moved to France 
in 1965. He directed two low-budget features, Mektoub (1970) and 
The Other France (1975), each of which concerns the precarious 
situation of the Algerian immigrant community in France; and he 
wrote a novel, A Wife for My Son (1979), which he adapted into a fea- 
ture in 1982 in Algeria. The film narrates the story of an 18-year-old 
Algerian schoolgirl, Fatiha, whose parents decide, in accordance with 
local tradition, to marry her off, and select for her husband Hussein, a 
35-year-old Algerian immigrant worker in France. Fatiha is forced to 
submit to her parents’ wishes, although she and Hussein have never 
met. The latter returns to Algeria for the wedding, consummates the 
marriage, and returns to his job in France, leaving Fatiha behind with 
his family in Algeria. See also BEUR CINEMA; GENDER AND 

GIRL WITH THE RED SCARF, THE (1977). This relatively main- 
stream Ye§il<;am production has received critical attention in the 
post-Ye§il£am era for having become a romantic cult film for 
younger generation audiences. Based upon a story by Chinghiz Ait- 
matov, Atif Yilmaz’s filmic adaptation concerns a divorced wom- 
an’s inability to decide between the two men she loves— one who 
is handsome and caring but untrustworthy, and one who is homely 
but generous and industrious. Atypical of Ycsi learn melodrama is 
the film’s ending, which emphasizes the woman’s preference for 
laborious effort over erotic feeling, thus denying the kind of pleasure 

1 66 • GITA], AMOS 

so often associated with Turkish industrial genre cinema. See also 

GITAI, AMOS (1950- ). An auteur in the European tradition holding a 
doctorate in architecture from University of Califomia-Berkeley, this 
consummate cineaste is the first Jewish-Israeli director whose films 
have been distributed widely beyond Palestine-Israel, and the only one 
of his compatriots whose directorial oeuvre has been the subject of sus- 
tained scholarly analysis. Gitai’s films are adventurously iconoclastic, 
especially his earlier modernist works such as Esther (1986) and Ber- 
lin-Jerusalem (1989), made while he was self-exiled in France, which 
utilize estrangement techniques reminiscent of both Bertolt Brecht and 
Jean-Luc Godard to convey complex, critically reflexive visions of 
authority and imperialism, exile and migration. Although Gitai’s films 
neither oppose Zionism nor explicitly engage the Palestinian-Israeli 
conflict, their projections of an alienated Jewish Israel infer incisive 
allegorical critiques of the conflict’s enabling conditions. 

Gitai is particularly interested in the phenomenon of persisting 
social violence, which his later films — War and Peace in Vesoul 
(1997, with Elia Suleiman), Kadosh (1999), the autobiographical 
Kippur (2000), and Free Zone (2005) — increasingly position be- 
yond historical specificity, in human, if not necessarily individual, 
psychology and, especially, the material exigencies of faith. In this 
respect, Gitai’s postexilic films made following his 1993 return to 
Palestine-Israel in the wake of the Oslo Accords effect a rapproche- 
ment with his much earlier, preexilic works, notably Wadi Salib Riots 
(1979) and House (1980), two made-for-tele vision short documenta- 
ries in which environmental and architectural ruins concretize issues 
of historical memory and reenactment. Those earlier works also find 
fictional dramatization in the later Alila (2003) and documentary 
follow-up in News from Home / News from House (2006). Gitai’s 
more recent Disengagement (2007) and One Day, You’ll Understand 
(2008) also evidence a return, this time in the form of modernist in- 
vestigations of the Israeli-European nexus that evoke the Holocaust 
in present-day context. 

GIVE SOME CONSOLATION (1971). This musical melodrama of 
Turkish cinema’s Ye^il^am period combines the typical vocabulary 


of that genre with characteristics of social realism associated with 
director Liitfi O. Akad. It concerns a factory worker whose life in 
a working-class neighborhood in Istanbul and interest in traditional 
folk and arabesk music conflict with the life and culture of his love 
interest, the factory owner’s daughter. In keeping with generic con- 
ventions (which recall those of Indian cinema), the film’s musical 
numbers are not entirely integrated with its story or setting, and 
are performed by the protagonist, renowned arabesk singer Orhan 
Gencebay, whose character (again, typical of the genre) bears his 

GOLESTAN, EBRAHIM (1922- ). Golestan was born in Shiraz and 
attended Tehran University, from where he entered the services of 
the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). A quintessential Iranian 
intellectual of the 1960s, Golestan was active as a photographer, 
short story writer, translator, filmmaker, and producer. Along with 
Farrokh Ghaffari, Fereydun Rehnema, and Forough Farrokhzad, 
he transformed the Iranian cinema by fashioning a homegrown mo- 
dernity that brought a new level of formal experimentation and an 
auteur culture that paved the way for later directors such as Abbas 
Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. A prolific author, instru- 
mental in bringing Western literature to Iran through his translations 
of Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, and Ernest Hemingway, 
Golestan also published four collections of short stories and essays 
on Persian modernism. He was the first Iranian director in the 1960s 
to establish his own studio, the Golestan Film Unit, which initially 
produced documentaries for NIOC but later transformed into a fairly 
sophisticated venue for producing Golestan’ s own films. Combin- 
ing lyricism and social realism. The Brick and the Mirror (1965), 
his first feature, is a major cinematic critique of a corrupt society. 
Golestan also directed The Secrets of the Jinn-infested Valley (1974), 
a comic satire of the empty extravagance of the Shah’s monarchy. 
Since the mid-1970s, Golestan has lived in England. 

GUERDJOU, BOURLEM (1965- ). Beur filmmaker Guerdjou 
trained first as an actor, appearing in Tea in the Harem (Mehdi 
Charef, 1985), and subsequently studied film directing. From 1985, 
he began making short films, including Ring (1987) and The Color 


of Children (1994). His debut feature. Living in Paradise (1998), 
received critical acclaim and several prizes. Set in 1961-62, during 
the final stages of the battle for Algerian independence, the film 
tells the story of Lakhdar Ferouz, who lives in a squalid shanty-town 
(bidonville) outside Paris. Missing his wife and children, Lakhdar has 
them leave Algeria and join him. Their reception of his letter is the 
only section of the film set in Algeria and lasts for less than a minute; 
nevertheless, the lush landscape, with palm trees, goats, and a strong 
connection to the land, emphasizes the very different experience of 
life in France. Although immediately appalled by the conditions she 
finds there, Lakhdar’ s wife, Nora, gradually develops strong relation- 
ships to the community in the slum, befriends a Front de Libera- 
tion Nationale (FLN) militant, Aicha (Hiam Abbass), and helps in 
the fight for Algerian independence by sheltering FLN supporters; 
Lakhdar, on the other hand, once a community leader, is now focused 
solely on attaining an apartment for his family. He believes that such 
accommodation will be equal to living in paradise, but to reach it, he 
is willing to shut his wife in their tiny shack (a trope which appears in 
other heur films, such as Inch ’Allah Dimanche [Yamina Benguigui, 
2001]), abandon support for the Algerian independence struggle, and 
exploit his fellow workers. His refusal to buy a present for a wedding 
exemplifies his alienation from traditional Algerian customs— and 
from his wife. Eventually, having lost everything he had worked for 
in France, he opts to return to newly independent Algeria— by impli- 
cation, the real paradise of the film’s title. 

Guerdjou’s subsequent ZaXna, Horsewoman of the Atlas (2005) 
also involves the problem of adjusting to inhospitable conditions, 
but from a less critical perspective. This German co-production, the 
plot of which recalls the classic New German Cinema road movie 
Alice in the Cities (Wim Wenders, 1974), is set in the unspecified 
distant past, and portrays the misadventures of Zaina, an 1 1 -year-old 
girl entrusted to her estranged father, Mustapha, when her remarried 
mother dies in a suspicious accident. The fabulistic narrative follows 
father and daughter through the Atlas Mountains, where Mustapha 
comes to battle the leader of a nomadic tribe with whom he has a 
longstanding rivalry. Orientalist sword fights, landscape shots, and 
Berber stereotypes abound, as the supposed goal of the journey, a 
horse race, is derailed. 



GUNEY (PUTUN), YILMAZ (1937[1931?]-1984). This most iconic 
Kurdish figure in Turkish cinema, born in Adana, first worked as a 
day laborer, cotton picker, and street vendor before becoming a short- 
story writer and film company worker in southern Turkey. While 
studying economics in Istanbul, he served as an assistant director and 
actor for Atif Yilmaz in 1958. Under the name of the “ugly king” of 
Turkish cinema, Giiney became a star of action-adventures and grim 
melodramas, then started writing and directing his own films. His 
first films as a director and writer were an action-packed love story, 
Horse Woman Gun (1966), and gangster films that often involved 
desperate love affairs, such as Live Target (1970) and The Hopeless 
Ones (1971). International recognition came after he started to reflect 
his involvement with Turkish leftism in social realist films such as 
Hope (1970), about a horse cart rider’s hopeless search for a treasure, 
which earned him critical acclaim. 

Giiney continued to act and direct popular films that reflected 
aspects of his life in a melodramatic style. During the 1970s, he was 
jailed twice for political activities: between prison terms, he made 
several films, while during them he wrote several others that would 
be directed by his assistants, including The Way (§erif Goren, 1981). 
After his second imprisonment (of eight years), for the killing of a 
right-wing judge following a fight at a restaurant in Adana in 1973, 
Giiney escaped to France in 1981, where he directed his last film, 
The Wall (1983), about conditions of imprisoned children, before his 
untimely death from cancer. 

GURSES, MUHARREM (1913-1999). A graduate in education 
who worked briefly as a teacher, this Turkish director began his 
entertainment career as a theatrical actor, then wrote novels and 
screenplays before acting in early Ye^il^am films. In 1952, after 
serving as an assistant director, he directed his first three films and 
soon became known for promoting the aesthetics of popular 1940s 
Egyptian melodrama in films aimed at rural spectators. Giirses’ 
films range from tear-jerkers such as They Cannot Take You from 
Me (1961), a love story between a young man and his private tutor’s 
daughter, to historical adventures such as Battal Gazi (1966), which 


features the titular Islamic hero fighting against crusading Christians, 
and to Turkified comedies such as Dumbiillu Tarzan (1954), which 
features the early Yesilcam comedian ismail Dumbiillii as an urban 

- H - 


Hadjaj was bom in Algeria but studied and worked for television 
in Belgium, then for Radiodiffusion Television Algerienne. From 
1985 to 1991, Hadjaj taught cinema at the Institut national des sci- 
ences de T information et de la communication in Algiers and made 
several films and documentaries for television. In 1995, he directed 
his first cinematic feature. Once Upon a Time , one of the first Ber- 
ber films, and, in 2000, the acclaimed A Woman Taxi Driver in Sidi 
Bel-Abbes, a documentary about Soumicha, a woman who must earn 
a living after her husband dies and so becomes the first and only fe- 
male taxi driver in the titular Algerian city. The camera accompanies 
Soumicha as she picks up passengers who discuss their views about 
her job, social conditions in Algeria, and women’s place; jump cuts 
between fares prefigure a similar technique in Ford Transit (Hany 
Abu-Assad, 2002). The bulk of the film follows Soumicha as she 
drives with a friend, Hamida, to several nearby towns, where they 
listen to women factory workers and teachers talk about their sub- 
jection to violent attacks, some lethal, by Islamists reacting to the 
empowerment afforded many rural women by postcolonial industry. 
Hadjaj’s subsequent DV-shot feature. The Beacon (2004), continues 
his focus on contemporary social conflict with a story of three child- 
hood friends who retrace their relationships since 1988 as they wit- 
ness the growth of Islamist movements in Algeria. 


The films, videos, and installations produced by this couple have 
successfully bridged the worlds of cinema and experimental art. 
Their first feature film. Around the Pink House (1999), demonstrates 
frustrations about the postwar Lebanese land-grab and concomitant 
nostalgia for fleeting material remains. A subsequent feature. The 


Lost Film (2003), is a record of the filmmakers’ search for a print 
of Around the Pink House that had vanished after a screening in 
Yemen— and becomes an analysis of the place of cinema in that 
country and in the Arab world as a whole. Their short. Ashes (2003), 
depicts the struggles of Nabil (Rabih Mroue) to honor his father’s 
cremation request while attempting to appease his family’s expecta- 
tion for an open casket viewing and burial. Poignantly presenting the 
struggle with tradition. Ashes allegorizes the war’s “disappeared” 
and society’s inability to mourn them in the absence of their miss- 
ing corpses— as in the Sacred Defense films made by Ebrahim 
Hatamikia in Iran. The couple continues this theme in The Perfect 
Day (2005), a stark commentary upon postwar latency and hope for 
a perfect day. 

HAFEZ, ABDEL HALIM (1929-1977). Born in the Al-Sharqia prov- 
ince of Egypt, this singer-actor of 1950s-1970s Egyptian cinema 
was second in mass popularity only to Umm Kulthum. Hafez was 
orphaned at an early age and raised by relatives in Cairo. At the age 
of 11, his singing talent earned him a position at the Arabic Music 
Institute, performing pieces written by Mohamed Abdel Wahab. 
His adult professional career did not begin until 1953, on the first an- 
niversary of the Free Officers coup, when his broadcasts and record- 
ing of nationalist anthems (their lyrics often written by Salah Jahin) 
earned him the nickname the “Brown Nightingale.” Soon Hafez 
began to star in musical romances and comedies, many directed 
by Henri Barakat, in which he became a cross-class figure of mass 
identification, usually playing characters with unrealistic economic 
and romantic goals, often alongside famous leading ladies. These 
include Our Sweet Days (Helmi Halim, 1955), as a student who 
loses his love interest (Faten Hamama) to his roommate (Omar 
Sharif); Days and Nights (Barakat, 1955); Dalila (Mohammad 
Karim, 1956), Egyptian cinema’s first color wide-screen film; Lov- 
ers’ Rendezvous (Barakat, 1956), again with Hamama; and Today’s 
Girl (Barakat, 1957), this time as a man of means, alongside Magda. 
Hafez also starred in quality vehicles, such as The Empty Pillow 
(Salah Abu Seif, 1957) and A Day in My Life (Atef Salem, 1961), 
playing a photographer. In 1961, he co-founded a recording com- 
pany, Soutelphan (now EMI Arabia), with Abdel Wahab. Hafez died 

172 • HAIFA 

early from a rare parasitic disease, schistosomiasis, which he con- 
tracted in childhood; his funeral was almost as large as the funerals 
of Umm Kulthum and Gamal Abdel Nasser. Sherif Arafa directed a 
biopic about him, Halim, starring Ahmed Zaki, in 2006. 

HAIFA (1996). Rashid Masharawi’s feature depicts a schizophrenic 
character by the name of Haifa (Mohammed Bakri) and his refugee 
community in the Gaza Strip, exemplified by an ex-police officer 
turned cotton-candy seller, an anxious mother (Hiam Abbass) urging 
her sons to settle down, a teenage girl dreaming of a bright future, 
and old mothers longing for their emigrated children. Haifa repre- 
sents the psychological and physical displacement and disorientation 
of Palestinian refugees after the Nakba , and ironically addresses 
the seeming finality of the promise of refugees’ “right of return” left 
unaddressed in the Oslo Accords. As in Masharawi’s other films, the 
limited movement of the camera speaks to the confined position of 
the refugee, simultaneously addressing the impact of spatial politics 
on personal and collective levels. Haifa was the first Palestinian film 
to be selected for screening at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Ferid Boughedir, with script work by Nouri Bouzid and editing 
by Moufida Tlatli, this internationally co-produced coming-of-age 
story broke box office records in Tunisia upon its release. Pubescent 
Noura visits the local bathhouse with his mother until he is caught 
ogling unclothed women, at which point he is “banished” to the 
world of men. Along with two older boys, Noura begins to explore 
his sexual feelings, as he wanders the winding alleyways and roof- 
tops of the modest Tunis neighborhood of Halfaouine, his at times 
reluctant meanderings creating an alluring visual instability that 
parallels his own troubled self-perceptions, often exacerbated in the 
form of reprimand and punishment for minor infractions by his strict 
father. Even Noura’s penultimate sexual encounter with his family’s 
compliant female servant does not supply the narrative with genuine 
catharsis or conclusion, instead subverting the typical rite-of-passage 
by redirecting its meaning— and the spectatorial gaze— to what still 
remains unexpressed in Noura’s life, and, by implication, Tunisian 


Noura’s best friend is a womanizing poet and shoemaker, also 
depicted as a political rabble-rouser who we eventually see being 
taken away by the police after drunkenly scrawling graffiti critical of 
the country’s president. This material, mirrored on a much smaller 
scale by Noura’s father’s hypocritical repression of him, provides a 
powerful critique of a patriarchal system. No Arab film before Hal- 
faouine had shown so much female nudity; however, its depictions of 
women’s bodies and sexuality do not lend significant agency to them 
except as appropriated and experienced by men. See also GENDER 

HAMAMA, FATEN (1931- ). One of the biggest of all Egyptian 
movie stars, Hamama, born in A1 Mansurah, began her career as 
a child actor, becoming known as the Egyptian “Shirley Temple” 
and often appearing alongside Mohamed Abdel Wahab, her future 
husband, during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Her first film role 
was in A Day of Joy (Mohammad Karim, 1939). As a young adult, 
she studied acting formally in Cairo and soon became the biggest 
nonmusical Egyptian star ever, featuring in more than 100 films (30 
from 1945 to 1951 alone). Between 1947 and 1954, she was married 
to director Ezzedine Zulficar, with whom she established a produc- 
tion company and starred in several of his films. Known eventually 
as the “Cinderella” of Egyptian cinema and the “First Lady of the 
Arabic Screen,” Hamama starred first in a series of films playing 
poor, submissive young women, but her star persona gradually al- 
tered as she was cast frequently as the romantic lead in numerous 
quality melodramas, including Amin, My Father (Youssef Chahine, 
1950); Nile Boy (Chahine, 1951), as a rural woman who nearly dies 
in childbirth; Your Day Will Come (aka Day of the Unjust) (Salah 
Abu Seif, 1951); Struggle in the Valley (aka Blazing Sun) (Chahine, 
1954), as a pasha’s daughter in love with a Westernized engineer 
played by Omar Sharif (whom she would marry); With God on Our 
Side (Ahmed Badrakhan, 1953-1955), alongside Emad Hamdi in 
a pro-revolutionary film banned by the censors for two years prior 
to its release; I Can’t Sleep (Abu Seif, 1957), in her first “bad girl” 
role, alongside Sharif and Hind Rustom; Land of Peace (Kamal 
El -Sheikh, 1957), as a Palestinian with Sharif; The Nightingale’s 
Prayer (aka Call of the Curlew) (Henri Barakat, 1959), perhaps her 

1 74 • HAMOON 

most famous role; and The Sin (Barakat, 1965), as a woman bearing 
the consequences of an illegitimate pregnancy. 

After a temporary three-year exile to London and Beirut for her 
opposition to the increasingly corrupt practices of Gamal Abdel 
Nasser’s Free Officers regime, Hamama also took roles in more po- 
litically charged films, such as The Empire of M’s (Hussein Kamal, 
1972), concerning divorce and marriage laws; I Want a Solution 
(Said Marzuk, 1975), on the same topic; and Sweet Day, Bitter Day 
(Khairy Beshara, 1988), regarding the social conditions of widow- 
hood. During the 1960s and 1970s, Hamama would star in several 
additional auteur vehicles, including Abu Seif’s I Am Free (1958), 
Don ’t Extinguish the Sun (1961), again with Hamdi, and No Time for 
Love (1963), and Barakat’s The Open Door (1963), The Thin Thread 
(1971), My Love (1974), and The Night of Fatma’s Arrest (1984). 
Since 2000, she has acted primarily in television shows, and in 2006, 
although politically subdued throughout her career, she gave a highly 
publicized interview in which she criticizes the United States for its 
Middle East policies in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq. 

HAMOON (1990). Dariush Mehrjui’s film depicts the struggles of an 
alienated, Westernized intellectual to find meaning and order in his 
existence. While his painter wife, Mahshid (Bita Farahi), who has 
achieved the professional success he has not, tries to divorce him, 
Hamid Hamoon (Khosrow Shakibai) struggles to complete a thesis 
on Abraham’s sacrifice of his son, Isaac/Ishmael, a paradox that 
obsesses him. Hamoon’ s complex structure involves flashbacks and 
dream sequences that reflect his inner turmoil, as does nature imag- 
ery (wind, waves, and sand) and a chaotic mise-en-scene (garbage in 
and around a stream, unwashed plates and cups on the floor, Hamid’s 
collision with his mother-in-law that sends food cascading down a 
staircase, damaging his wife’s painting). The film places Hamoon’s 
dilemma in the wider political context of Iran’s uneasy balance of 
tradition and modern corporate transnationalism, most memorably 
in a scene in which the protagonist imagines his businessman boss 
as a Japanese samurai, beheaded by a colleague on roller skates, 
dressed as a mullah. Finally Hamoon attempts suicide in the Caspian 
Sea but is rescued by his mentor, Ali, for whom Hamoon has been 
vainly searching throughout the film. The intimation here of rebirth 


is supported by a sequence, reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s 8V2 (to 
which Hamoon is often compared), in which Hamoon is apparently 
accepted for who he is by Mahshid. 

HANNANEH, MORTEZA (1923-1989). A composer who wrote 
the soundtracks for many well-known Iranian films, Hannaneh 
was a founder and conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. 
Flis soundtracks — serene combinations of Western and Eastern in- 
fluences— have often been considered as memorable as the films for 
which they were written. In Escaping from the Trap (Jalal Mogha- 
dam, 1971), Hannaneh’s magical-sounding music inflects mood and 
atmosphere, often underscoring the feelings of characters and the 
environmental milieu. Hannaneh simplified the notion of orchestra to 
the point at which audiences did not need any particular background 
in the musical arts to understand its workings in particular films and 
to enjoy his music. This is especially due to Hannaneh’s integration 
of folk melodies into his arrangements and his frequent employ- 
ment of popular singers to accompany his orchestra. Such practices 
drew from his interest in literature, cultural studies of ancient and 
modern Iran, and anthropological studies of ordinary Iranian lives, 
all of which added up to a renewed popular classicism that distin- 
guishes his compositions from those of many other Iranian compos- 
ers. Among his best-known soundtracks are Thousand Hands (Ali 
Hatami, 1988), Red Head (Abdollah Ghyabi, 1975), and Hell Plus 
Me (Mohammad-Ali Fardin, 1973). 

HATAMI, LEILA (1972- ). Hatami is an award-winning Iranian 
actress best known for her critically acclaimed performance in Leila 
(Dariush Mehrjui, 1996), in which she plays the titular role of a 
woman whose seemingly blissful marriage unravels due to her in- 
ability to conceive. Hatami ’s nuanced portrayal of a woman seeking 
love and approval inside a patriarchal system is one of the most 
enduring portraits of modern Iranian women caught on the cusp of 
tradition and modernity. Her performance as an existentially weary 
wife in Deserted Station (2004) gained accolades not only for herself 
but also for its young director, Ali Reza Raisian, who turns a story by 
Abbas Kiarostami into an emotional film about the transitory nature 
of spiritual redemption. Hatami’ s more recent projects include her 


role in Poet of the Wastes (Mohammad Ahmadi, 2005) as a young, 
impoverished woman attempting to forge a link with the outside 


Born into a religious family in Tehran, Hatamikia studied graphic 
design at Tehran University, becoming involved in filmmaking only 
after the onset of the war with Iraq (1980-88). He began shooting 
short documentaries using super-8 stock, but with training at the 
newly formed Farabi Cinema Foundation and support from the 
government, he graduated to better-funded fictional features. All 
of his films have revolved around the war with Iraq and its con- 
sequences for Iranian society. His early battle films, exemplary 
instances of Sacred Defense Cinema, include Identity (1986), The 
Scout (1988), and Mohajer (1990). 

However, Hatamikia is now best-known for his explorations of 
the trauma induced by the war— both on returning soldiers and those 
who await them, unable to mourn effectively without knowing the 
fate of their loved ones. In From Kharkheh to Rhine (1993), a soldier 
recovering his sight in a German hospital is able to watch and inter- 
act with a videotaped recording of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 
funeral; in The Scent of Youssef’s Shirt (1996), it is the very lack of 
such evidence of death that leaves the protagonists in limbo, although 
ultimately a father’s faith in his son’s survival is justified by his 
return— missing an arm. Although Hatamikia has remained commit- 
ted to Islam and is a believer in the Iranian Revolution of 1979, 
The Glass Agency (1998) was subjected to censorship in Iran; it is 
an allegorical critique of government policy in which a war veteran 
holds up a travel agency in an attempt to help a fellow veteran get to 
London for surgery. 

HATOUM, MONA (1952- ). A Palestinian artist bom in Beirut and 
residing in London, Hatoum’s double displacement informs her aes- 
thetics of exile, which reveal a deep ambivalence about the idealiza- 
tion of home and the individual. In her video, Measures of Distance 
(1988), Hatoum layers letters and recorded conversations with her 
mother over nude photos she took of her while still in Lebanon. 
The dense, fragmented, and obscured layering of sight and sound 


expresses a tension between gendered self-revelation and patriarchal 
and political erasure. Utilizing video, photography, performance, 
and installation art, Hatoum compels her audience to relinquish their 
comfort zones. For example, her video installation, Foreign Body 
(1994), employs medical endoscopic technology in order to present 
an internal self-portrait in which the soft, inner tissues are contrasted 
by the harsh reality of sexual violence. 

HEADS AND TAILS (2003). A little-known film of the new cinema 
of Turkey directed by Ugur Yiicel, Heads and Tails focuses on 
two buddies who must reacclimatize to civilian life after serving 
together in the Turkish army against the Kurdistan Workers Party 
in southeastern Turkey. One of the men, who comes from a small 
town in central Anatolia, is injured during the fighting and develops 
a manic-depressive disorder. The other man, a tough guy, returns to 
his home in Istanbul after service only to encounter previously sup- 
pressed aspects of his familial past: his brother’s homosexuality and 
his mother’s Greek heritage. Recalling Hollywood’s post-Vietnam 
War trauma cinema. Heads and Tails attempts to grapple realisti- 
cally with conditions faced by soldiers in a society in which military 
conscription is compulsory for all males. 

HEDAYAT, SADEGH (1903-1951). Hedayat is the prerevolutionary 
author of the controversial modernist novel The Blind Owl (1937), 
which brought international recognition to Persian language and lit- 
erature in the 1930s. Studying in France, he was drawn to the writings 
of Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Fyodor 
Dostoevsky, and explored themes of death, human existence, and 
justice in his own writings, as well as in the translations he under- 
took from European languages to Persian, most notably the works of 
Jean-Paul Sartre and Kafka. He was also influenced by Hindu and 
Buddhist teachings. Hedayat returned to Iran from France in 1930, 
and as a member of the antimonarc hical and anti-Islamist Rab’a 
group, he drew the wrath of supporters of the monarchy and the 
clergy for his outspoken critique of both of these institutions. When 
the Rab’a party was threatened with dissolution by the conservative 
political establishment, Hedayat traveled to India, where The Blind 
Owl was originally published. He returned to Tehran in the early 


1940s where, with the emergence of the new Tudeh Party, he hoped 
to find a more convivial atmosphere for his artistic and philosophical 
concerns. This, however, did not happen, and Hedayat’s final years 
were spent in deep disillusionment, despair, and bitterness, fueled by 
alcoholism and drug addiction. He allegedly committed suicide by 
gassing himself in his Paris apartment in 1951, and he is buried in 
Pere Lachaise Cemetery. 

Chilean director Raul Ruiz’s La Chouette Aveugle (1987) un- 
dertakes an idiosyncratic adaptation of Hedayat’s novel, which, 
with its light comic touches and the neurasthenic posturing of the 
main character, nevertheless captures something of its absurdity 
and melancholy. Massud Kimiai’s Dash Akol (1971) is based on 
Hedayat’s short story of the same name. Hardline Islamist opposi- 
tion to Hedayat’s works, notably The Blind Owl, Haji Aqa, and The 
Vagrant Dog , resurfaced in Europe as recently as 2007. In 2006, 
publication of Hedayat’s works in an uncensored form was banned in 
Iran under the conservative Culture Ministry of President Mahmoud 

HELLO AMERICA (2000). Nader Galal’s film is a vehicle for star 
Adel Iman, renewing their successful partnership in The Terrorist 
(1994). Here Iman appears for the third time as Bekhit, with Sher- 
een as his partner, Adila, in a complicated narrative that revolves 
around a series of comic episodes. This time, however, nearly all 
the action takes place in the United States, where Bekhit has been 
invited by his Westernized cousin, Nofal. Thus, the film exempli- 
fies a group of recent Egyptian industry films, reflecting trans- 
national themes, that are set abroad; it is also critical of U.S. cul- 
ture— although expatriate Egyptians are equally pilloried. Bekhit’s 
early dreams of success — based upon establishing a chain of fava 
bean fast-food outlets that will rival McDonald’s and Kentucky 
Fried Chicken— are, of course, thwarted by a series of misadven- 
tures, as he tries to understand contemporary American values, 
including gay rights and premarital sex. Escaping his cousin’s un- 
welcoming house, Bekhit and Adila take refuge in a mosque where 
anti-American values are espoused. His marriage to a U.S. citizen 
is arranged, only she turns out to be a masculine-looking, sexually 
voracious harridan— as portrayed by Sudanese actress, Sattouna, in 


a tremblingly racist sequence that mirrors the homophobia apparent 
in other parts of the film. 

An accident in which Bekhit is knocked down by the car of a presi- 
dential candidate’s daughter, however, gives him the opportunity to 
file a law suit and make the millions of dollars of which he has been 
dreaming. He visits the White House, escapes with the money, but is 
chased through the streets by various antagonists and ends up throw- 
ing it away so that he and Adila end up penniless again. 

HERD, THE (1978). Although its authorship is often attributed to its 
screenwriter, Yilmaz Giiney, The Herd was directed by Zeki Okten. 
It narrates a rural Turkish family’s struggle against the inescap- 
able pressures of urban life while transporting its herd to market in 
Ankara. Although never stated explicitly, the family, like Giiney, is 
Kurdish. Thus, the film’s grim perspective on the confrontation be- 
tween rural Turkey’s feudal structures and the country’s turn toward 
modernization is complicated by the family’s social marginalization 
under the Turkish state. 

HERE AND PERHAPS ELSEWHERE (2003). Lamia Joreige’s 

experimental video documentary tackles the social memory of po- 
litical kidnappings during the Lebanese Civil War by confronting 
people along the divisive “green line,” the urban front line that sepa- 
rated East and West Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, and prob- 
ing their memories. Rather than trying to reveal undisclosed truths, 
the video displays a multiplicity of reactions, not least of which is 
the refusal to remember. Even those who do decide to remember 
supply incoherent testimonies. By this, Here and Perhaps Elsewhere 
confronts as willful forgetfulness the “official amnesia” that has af- 
flicted postwar survivors. Along with 18,000 others, Joreige’s uncle 
disappeared during the war; without bodies to bury, most of these 
war casualties remain unmourned. These victims have increasingly 
gained both explicit and metaphorical treatment in Lebanese cinema, 
particularly in works by Lamia’s brother, Khalil Joreige, and his 
wife, Joana Hadjithomas, and by Ghassan Salhab. 

HOI POLLOI, THE (1985). Umit Efekan’s tearjerker about a mother 
and son trying to survive in a hostile world stars 14-year-old arabesk 


singer, Kiicuk Emrah (“Little Emrah”). It combines the musical and 
the child melodrama genre originally popularized by such Ye§il<;am 
films as Little Ay§e (1960). Like other such Turkish films of the 
period. Hoi Polloi was distributed through the home video market, 
its story and arabesk numbers accruing popularity for their ostensible 
reflection of the changing mood and economic structure following 
the military intervention of 1980, when the sudden introduction 
of a fast-paced neoliberal capitalism to Turkey began to shrink the 
middle class. 

HOLOCAUST. The systematic, industrial mass murder of approxi- 
mately 12 million people, including Jews (who comprised a dispro- 
portionately large percentage of victims), Roma, Soviet prisoners of 
war, lesbians and gays, political resistors, dissident religious groups, 
Slavs, and the mentally and physically infirm and disabled, under the 
auspices of German National Socialism during World War II. The 
Holocaust is the subject of countless Israeli documentaries, most of 
which are housed in the Israeli Film Archive along with narrative 
feature films produced as a sub-genre of the second Young Israeli 
Cinema. Included among the latter are The Summer of Aviya (1988) 
and its sequel. Under the Domim Tree (1995), both directed by Eli 
Cohen and starring Gila Almagor, and Newland (Oma Ben-Dor 
Niv, 1994), all of which concern the post-Holocaust adaptation of 
Ashkenazi Jews to life in Israel and which uphold the Holocaust as 
central to Israeli national identity; and The Kastner Trial (Uri Bara- 
bash, 1994), a television miniseries dramatizing the trial of Rudolf 
Kastner, a Labor Party moderate accused of Nazi collaboration by a 
person of the orthodox Right, who eventually assassinates him. 

In the wake of the Oslo Accords, several independent documenta- 
ries emerged that have called that centrality into question. Examples 
are The Specialist: Portrait of a Modern Criminal (Eyal Sivan, 1999) 
and Don’t Touch My Holocaust (Asher Tlalim, 1994). The former 
critically remasters archival footage of the Eichmann Trial held in Is- 
rael during 1960, while the latter satirizes the social— psychological 
effects of internalized atrocity stories and imagery as depicted in the 
experimental Israeli station-play, Arbeit Macht Frei ’mi Toitland 
Europa (1992), also documented in the German-Israeli coproduc- 
tion, Balagan (Andres Veiel, 1994). A decade later, Walk on Water 


(Eytan Fox, 2004) reasserts Holocaust centrality, while revising it 
to include attention to Palestinian oppression; an explicit critique of 
its relationship to perceived anti-Semitism is offered by Defamation 
(Yoav Shamir, 2009). See also JERUSALEM INTERNATIONAL 

HOPE (1971). Hope helped elevate Turkish action-adventure star 
and director Yilmaz Giiney to critical success. The film narrates 
the woeful life of a horse-cart driver, Cabbar, who, upon the death 
of his horse in an automobile accident, cannot afford a new one and 
so becomes embroiled in an ill-fated treasure hunt that leads to his 
insanity. Unlike other Ye§ik;am dramas, Hope is noteworthy for its 
documentary realism and Giiney ’s own lead performance as Cabbar. 
The film also marked a 1970s Ycsilcam trend in which social realist 
films (including several of Giiney’ s) were given single-term titles. 

HOSNI, SOUAD (1942-2001). Known by her fans as the “Cinderella” 
of Egyptian cinema, Hosni’s life began and ended tragically. Born 
in Cairo, she was initiated into entertainment at the age of three, ill- 
treated and abused by her father, and deprived of an education until 
she was 16. Having begun her film career in Hassan and Nairna 
(Henri Barakat, 1959), she went on to act in more than 80 films 
(many of which are considered classics), working for Egypt’s most 
prominent filmmakers, co-starring with the country’s most talented 
and famous male performers, and featuring in adaptations by its most 
important writers. As one of Egypt’s most popular actresses, she fea- 
tured in a wide range of films, from Niazi Mustafa’s light comedies 
to Ali Badrakhan’s political satires and all that lay in between— a 
cheeky schoolgirl in Too Young for Love (Mustafa, 1966), a political 
activist in Karnak (Ali Badrakhan, 1975), a deviant schizophrenic 
seductress in Well of Deprivation (Kamal El-Sheikh, 1969), a wily 
peasant forced into marriage in The Second Wife (Salah Abu Seif, 
1967), and a single mother in A Stranger in My Home (Samir Seif, 
1982). She was a versatile and brilliant singer and dancer, emerging 
amid a number of already well-established female performers to be- 
come an icon of glamour and femininity. 

Hosni is most associated in the popular imagination with her role 
as Zuzu in Watch Out for Zuzu (Hassan El-Imam, 1972), in which 


she plays a liberal and outspoken student by day, and wedding (belly) 
dancer by night. Hosni also starred in more overtly historically and 
politically relevant films, making her an actress whose work placed 
her among the intelligentsia of her time. As Shafika, in Shafika 
and Me tw ally (Badrakhan, 1978), written and narrated by her close 
friend, Salah Jahin, she transformed the film’s musical numbers 
into a scathing satire and chilling carnival of the oppressed. In Din- 
ner Date (Mohamed Khan, 1981), she plays the wife of a rich and 
powerful man who struggles to break free of a loveless marriage and 
start a new life for herself. Her ex-husband remains possessive, at- 
tempts to get her back, and, realizing that she has moved on, arranges 
the murder of her new husband. With no escape or likelihood of jus- 
tice being served, she poisons him and herself. Hosni’s performance 
of the song, “The Girls, the Girls,” in the television series Him and 
Her (1985) became an anthem for schoolgirls across the nation. In 
her last film. The Shepherd and the Women (Badrakhan, 1991), she 
plays the role of a middle-aged woman with poignancy and grace. 
Souad Hosni died in London, apparently severely depressed and 
unwell. The mysterious circumstances of her death— she fell from a 
balcony — sparked a number of rumors, since it was unclear whether 
she had committed suicide or been murdered. 

HOSTAGE: THE BACHAR TAPES (2000). Walid Raad introduces 
Souheil Bachar, an employee at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Beirut, as 
the sixth hostage taken during the “Western hostage crisis.” Bachar 
is modeled after real-life Soha Bechara, who was imprisoned for 10 
years during the prolonged Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon 
(1982-2000). By imagining an Arab man among the five American 
hostages, Raad evokes the homoeroticism of hostage narratives, 
thereby challenging their relative importance in view of the thou- 
sands of Lebanese who were kidnapped during the Lebanese Civil 
War and held hostage by occupying armies. It exemplifies how, 
in Raad’s work, narrated stories reveal the performance of history, 
which turns objects into documents and documents into facts. 

HOUSE IS BLACK, THE (1962). Forough Farrokhzad’s only film 
is a 22-minute documentary about a leper colony in Tabriz. It is fre- 
quently cited as the film having most influenced Iranian New Wave 


cinema and directors such as Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Abbas Ki- 
arostami. Farrokhzad presents the leper community as a microcosm 
of society, with the residents relating interpersonally in common 
and seemingly normal ways. We see women helping one another 
dress and apply make-up, individuals playing music together, old 
men playing board games, children playing. The grace and ease with 
which the real-life subjects are captured by Farrokhzad’ s camera is a 
testament to their trust and comfort with her presence in their com- 
munity. Excerpts recited from the Qur’an and the Flebrew Bible/Old 
Testament, a male voice-over discoursing calmly and clinically on 
the medical symptoms and treatment of leprosy, and excerpts recited 
from Farrokhzad ’s own poems constitute the soundtrack across shots 
of illness and deterioration of the physical body in a gentle invitation 
to the audience to recognize its implication in ostracizing the un- 
sightly and the deformed, and to see the resilience of the human soul 
when the body fails. We are thus reminded that leprosy is a treatable 
illness, and that the more profound deformities are of the spiritual 
kind. Farrokhzad’ s relationship with the residents of the colony con- 
tinued beyond the completion of the film; she became attached to a 
young boy, Flossein, whose parents were residents of the colony, and 
whom she later adopted and brought back to Tehran to live at her 
mother’s house. 

raeli Cinema classic directed by Moshe Mizrahi was Israel’s first 
post -bourekas film. Narrated from the perspective of teenager Sami, 
it depicts the travails of a Jewish family that emigrates from Alex- 
andria, Egypt, to Mandate Palestine just prior to the establishment 
of Israel in 1948. The family’s enthusiasm for Zionism is shattered 
upon arrival, as it must relinquish its prior bourgeois status to Israel’s 
dominant Ashkenazi caste and take up residence in a squalid, work- 
ing-class neighborhood. Sami’s mother (Gila Almagor) becomes a 
maid, while the younger generation, including Sami’s slightly older 
female friend (Michal Bat-Adam), begin organizing against oppres- 
sion. Underscored by an aesthetic that draws upon the neorealist tra- 
dition, the film reveals the systemic interrelationship between racism 
and class positioning in Israel, and as such was the first to portray 
Mizrahi Jews sympathetically. 

184 • HOW'S IT GOING? 

HOW’S IT GOING? (2006). How’s It Going? has been touted as Saudi 
Arabia’s first feature film, as well as the first film featuring a Saudi 
movie actress (Hind Mohammed). Directed by Izidore Musallam 
and scripted by Egyptian and Lebanese writers Mohammed Reda 
and Belal Fadl, the film was shot in Dubai with an international crew 
and produced by a media company, Rotana Audiovisual, owned by 
reform-minded Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Released in theaters 
throughout the Middle East, How’s It Going? could not be shown 
in Saudi Arabia because of its ban on cinemas. The comedy-drama 
depicts tensions between religious and secular expressions of mo- 
dernity in an age of globalization; the film centers its story around 
Sultan, an aspiring young filmmaker who clashes with his Islamist 
cousin, Khaled, when Sultan falls in love with Khaled’s sister, Sahar, 
who is pursuing a career as a journalist. See also UNITED ARAB 

HUN, EDIZ (1940- ). Along with Turkish romantic male leads such 
as Goksel Arsoy, Izzet Giinay, and Kartal Tibet, Istanbul-born Hun 
was an important star of the high Ye^il^am period. Having earned 
a bachelor’s degree in biology in Norway, he began his film career 
through an acting competition organized by a magazine. Except for 
a handful of films and television series in which he appeared during 
the post-Ye§il?am era, Hun starred mainly in Yes i I cam melodramas 
and romantic comedies between 1963 and 1974. With his tall, slim 
figure, he was cast as the handsome and often educated protago- 
nist (as in Sob [Orhan Aksoy, 1965], Milky Way [Aksoy, 1967], a 
tearjerker remake, and Kezban in Rome [Aksoy, 1970], a romantic 
comedy), or as a pro-Turkish Westerner {Ankara Express [Muzaffer 
Aslan, 1971]). 

HUSSEIN, TAHA (1889-1973). Born in tiny Izbet el Kilo in central 
Upper Egypt, Hussein was blind by the age of three. He was edu- 
cated in Cairo, and at the University of Montpelier and the Sorbonne 
in France, becoming an authority on Arabic literature and a booster 
of pharaonism, which advocated a return to the cultural heritage of 
ancient Egypt. In addition to his literary criticism, Hussein was a 
prolific novelist and essayist, and the fact that few of his works have 
been adapted for the screen has been used as an example of a lack of 

HYENAS' SUN • 185 

seriousness in Egyptian cinema. However, Hussein was the writer of 
the source novel for one film that stands at the apex of classic Egyp- 
tian melodramas, The Nightingale’s Prayer (aka Call of the Curlew) 
(Henri Barakat, 1959), in which major star Faten Hamama per- 
forms one of her most famous roles. 

The 1980s and 1990s superstar Ahmed Zaki established his ca- 
reer— and began his series of impersonations of famous Egyptians — 
in a 1980 television version of The Days, Hussein’s autobiographical 

HUSSY (1965). Hussy narrates a young singer’s rise to stardom fol- 
lowing her discovery by a nightclub owner. Replete with an array of 
melodramatic Ye§il?am tropes, Hussy traces a Turkified Pygmalion 
story by poaching from various sources, including Mahmut Yesari’s 
novel Hussy, Hollywood’s Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith/Lesley 
Howard, 1938), initially remade in Turkey as Hussy (Adolf Korner, 
1942); Charles Vidor’s Love Me or Leave Me (1955); and Garson 
Kanin’s Born Yesterday (1950). The film was remade by its director, 
Ertem Egilmez, himself in 1970. 

HYENAS’ SUN (1977). This artful critique of Western transnational- 
ism opens with the cry of a Berber woman dying in childbirth in a 
small Tunisian fishing village. Ridha Behi’s feature debut follows 
the villagers’ ensuing attempt to prevent a German construction com- 
pany from building a resort hotel on their beach. The film’s Third 
Cinema aesthetics resist psychological characterizations, instead 
supplying a social analysis of the villagers’ typified choices — to col- 
laborate with the developers and corrupt local politicians who sup- 
port them, to organize against the neocolonial incursion, to rely upon 
religious faith, or to do nothing. The strategy of estrangement ad- 
ditionally preempts a fatalistic interpretation of the film’s ostensibly 
tragic ending, which depicts the defeated villagers working in con- 
struction and at the hotel, as prostitutes, waiters, and kiosk owners, 
while overweight, bikini-clad tourists enjoy sun, surf, and imported 
seafood in the hotel’s posh surroundings, and the villager most re- 
sistant to the change is shunned and persecuted for his steadfastness. 
Hyenas’ Sun was shot in Morocco due to censorship restrictions in 
Tunisia at the time. See also 1001 HANDS. 

1 86 • IMAM, ADEL 

- I - 

IMAM, ADEL (1940- ). One of Egypt’s most highly paid, popular, 
and influential actors. Imam, born in Cairo, began his career in 
popular stage comedies, most notably in School for Troublemakers 
(1971-75)— frequently reaired on both state and satellite televi- 
sion— alongside performers Youssef Shaaban, Ahmad Zaki, Hassan 
Mustafa, and Soheir El Babiy, and with subsequent performances 
in A Witness Who Saw Nothing, Sayed the Servant Boy (1985-93), 
and The Ruler (1993). Imam is responsible for fashioning a specific 
version of Egyptian masculinity— defined in this instance as a com- 
bination of sexual potency, lack of physical prowess (in his youth, 
Imam was very thin and feeble), and an ability to mock others and 
sustain ridicule— all of which contributed to the comic effect of his 

During the 1960s, he played a number of supporting roles in light 
comedies featuring stars such as Shadia in My Wife the General 
Manager (Fatin Abdel-Wahab, 1966) and, again, in Half-hour 
Marriage (Abdel-Wahab, 1969). In the late 1970s, Imam came into 
his own with films such as The Wallet Is with Me (Mohamed Abdel 
Aziz, 1978). His star persona rests largely on performances in films 
that are critical of Egyptian society without challenging the status 
quo. In Samir Seif’s action film. The Suspect { 1981), Imam plays a 
thief who decides to go straight. This was the first film in which he 
starred opposite Souad Hosni, and the two performed together again 
in Love in Prison (Mohamed Fadel, 1983). He plays a man who 
tries to overcome the lack of affordable housing in Porter-Cabin in 
the Street (Ahmed Yehia, 1986), and who saves a woman (Shams 
El Barudy) from her cruel and corrupt elder husband in Two on the 
Road (Hassan Yousef, 1984). 

Imam has frequently brought together comedy with the action films 
that characterized the 1980s and 1990s. In Bakhit and Adila (Nader 
Galal, 1995), he stars opposite Sh arch an, with whom he accidentally 
finds himself in possession of cocaine. In The Terrorist (Galal, 1994), 
Imam plays a militant Islamist who is “converted” after spending 
some time in a liberal middle -class family home. The film seeks to 
present a solution to the underlying tension between Muslims and 
Christians, as the two parties watch a football match and are united 


in their patriotism. (This general theme is repeated in the Israeli film, 
Cup Final [Eran Riklis, 1991]). In Playing Games with Grown-Ups 
(Sherif Arafa, 1991), the young Imam is a whistle-blower somewhat 
out of his depth. The film proved to be a lucrative collaboration, 
and was followed by Terrorism and Kebab (Arafa, 1992), in which 
Imam again becomes an accidental hero who, frustrated with the bu- 
reaucratic processes typical of the nation, holds people hostage in a 
landmark government office building (the Mugamma). In these films, 
Imam is cast as the common man— poor, downtrodden, and bemus- 
ingly simple-minded. There is almost always a comic episode in 
which Imam makes an untimely lewd advance, or where, conversely, 
he is the victim of a sex-craved prostitute-foreigner. His two most 
recognizable expressions are a grimace and guffaw. 

Imam’s later, more mature roles are often of government officials 
( The Danish Experiment [Ali Idriss, 2003]) or affluent businessmen 
{Groom from the Security System [Idriss, 2004]), as well as of more 
familiar, shamelessly apolitical heroes, as in An Embassy in the 
Building (Amr Arafa, 2005). However, the depiction of his potency 
remains, in spite of his physical appearance, and he has managed 
to retain his star status (as one of the country’s most highly paid 
performers) while acting alongside a new generation of performers. 
More recently, he was the megastar in The Yacoubian Building 
(Marwan Hamed, 2006) and also appeared alongside Omar Sharif 
in the comedy Hassan and Marcos (Rami Imam, 2008). 

INANIR, KADIR (1949- ). While completing a degree in communica- 
tions, inantr began his film career, like many Ye§ik)am stars, through 
an acting contest in 1969. His star persona is replete with a tough-guy 
demeanor, evident in Dilemma of Love (1985), starring Inantr as a 
ski teacher with whom two sisters fall in love, and Tartar Ramazan 
(1990), the story of a bully in prison, and reflected in the recent 
Turkish humorous tabloid movement named after him, “Kadirism.” 
In the 1970s, inantr appeared with Tiirkan §oray in several melo- 
dramas and realist dramas before the two co-starred in the Ye§il§am 
classic. The Girl with the Red Scarf (Atif Y llmaz. 1977). 

iNANOGLU, TURKER (1936- ). While pursuing an education in fine 
arts during the late 1950s, Inanoglu served as an assistant director, 


then formed a production company, Erler Film, for which he directed 
approximately eight films per year, most of them romantic comedies 
and melodramas, throughout the 1960s. He subsequently switched 
focus entirely to production, allying with other producers and becom- 
ing the first to four-wall the major cinemas in Istanbul. Inanoglu’s 
successful career in popular Turkish film production continued into 
the late Ye§il?am period, when he went into the VCR business, and 
into the post-Ye§il<;am period, when he produced a television series 
and initiated private film certificate programs. Among his notable 
films are the children’s melodrama The Kid (1969), which he di- 
rected, and Arabesk (Ertem Egilmez, 1988), a self-reflexive comedy 
about Ycsilcam melodramas, which he produced, as well as eight 
historical adventure films centered around Kara Murat, the early Ot- 
toman hero. 

INNOCENCE (1997). One of Turkish director Zeki Demirkubuz’s 
contributions to the new cinema of Turkey, Innocence concerns 
a recent ex-con, Yusuf, who encounters a young woman and her 
mother, Ugur, who is involved with drugs, prostitution, and a desper- 
ate lover, Bekir. The film typifies Demirkubuz’s integration of drama 
with intertextual references to Ye§il?am, in the form of films that 
appeal' on diegetic television screens and in settings recognizable as 
locations where particular films were shot. Demirkubuz would later 
direct a prequel. Destiny (2006), which focuses on Ugur’s relation- 
ship with Bekir. 


The IIDCYA/Kanoon is an Iranian governmental organization 
charged with implementing a range of cultural and artistic activities 
that aid in the cognitive and artistic development of children and 
youth. Since its inception in 1961, Kanoon has produced books, 
audio tapes, films, and toys for children and young adults. Iranian 
families, as evidenced by sales figures, have trusted its guarantee of 
religiously appropriate cultural and educational values for its young 
consumers. Nearly 500 libraries and cultural centers and 2,000-odd 
tutors aid Kanoon in its culture-making enterprise. Its cinematic 
affairs department, instituted by Abbas Kiarostami in 1969, has 


launched the careers of several famous Iranian directors, including 
Bahram Beyzai, Majid Majidi, Amir Naderi, and animators such 
as Morteza Momayez and Farshid Mesghali. Responsible for funding 
the first Iranian features to be seen outside Iran following the 1979 
Iranian Revolution, Kanoon is internationally respected for its work 
in animation, and also funded the 1999 nomination for Best Foreign 
Language Film Oscar, Majidi’s Children of Heaven. 

ANNADWA ADDAWLIYYA). Literally “The House of Worldwide 
Encounter,” Dar Annadwa Addawliyya is identified in the ICB mis- 
sion statement as a member of the Diyar Consortium of ecumenical 
Lutheran institutions that serve the educational, social, and cultural 
needs of the Palestinian community in and around Bethlehem while 
developing a sophisticated infrastructure to bring international atten- 
tion to Palestinian life under the Israeli Occupation through local 
outreach programming, solidarity in resistance to occupation, media 
participation, and Web presence. Founded in 1995, the ICB has 
grown from four to 25 dedicated staff members. Its complex is situ- 
ated in central Bethlehem’s Madbasseh Square and includes the Dar 
al-Kalima College, a two-year Christian institution offering courses 
in the arts, multimedia, communications, and tourism; the Al-Kahf 
Arts and Crafts Center, which helps Palestinians express themselves 
through traditional arts and handicrafts and provides vocational train- 
ing for youth; the Addar Cultural and Conference Center for public 
and private events; and the Bethlehem Media Center (BMC), which 
trains Palestinians in all aspects of media production, particularly 
television and video. The BMC supports Palestinian film and media 
workers by providing equipment and facility rental options, as well 
as acting as a liaison between local-international media workers and 
the larger Palestinian community. The BMC also collaborates with 
Dar al-Kalima College in providing facility and technical support to 
film and media students to direct, produce, and broadcast film and 
television shows. BMC productions, including debates, health and 
wellness programs, and social and political documentaries, are tele- 
vised on local stations in the West Bank and on international satellite 
television. As a cultural center, the ICB also serves as a venue to 
screen Palestinian films, plays, and other performances. The ICB also 


contains a community health center. Despite sustaining significant 
damage during the 2002 Israeli siege of Bethlehem, when the Israel 
Defense Forces invaded and occupied the complex, ICB continues 
to rebuild and further its mission to foster a culture of peace and 
empowerment. As of 2008, it was the third largest nonstate employer 
in Bethlehem. 

secular, Palestinian-led nonviolent direct action movement was 
founded in August 2001 by peace activists Adam Shapiro and Hu- 
weida Arraf to support popular Palestinian resistance during the 
Al-Aqsa Intifada. ISM activists bear personal witness to the Israeli 
Occupation and transmit information garnered to their home com- 
munities in an effort to convey a more accurate picture of the conflict 
in Palestine-Israel than is available from mainstream media. The 
ISM has produced several short documentaries about the occupa- 
tion in the direct cinema tradition, including Jerusalem Day 2002 
(2002), in which Israeli soldiers on patrol in Jerusalem are asked their 
views about the titular holiday that celebrates the occupation of East 
Jerusalem during the Six-Day War; Jenin Spring: April 2002 (2002), 
which records Israel Defense Forces (IDF) destruction of the Jenin 
Refugee Camp; and A La Muqata ’a (2002), in which ISM activists 
document the Ramallah home and headquarters of Palestinian Au- 
thority President Yasser Arafat during the last 12 days of the IDF 
siege on his compound. 

IN THE BATTLEFIELDS (2004). Building on the work of some 
personal documentaries about the everyday violence of domestic 
life during times of war, Danielle Arbid’s first feature film subverts 
the patriarchal heroics of battle, revealing an oppressive world of 
claustrophobic relationships and fleeting moments of escape. Filmed 
almost entirely within interior spaces, In the Battlefields depicts the 
confluence of violence, repression, and desire by focusing on the 
story of two young women struggling with oppressive families dur- 
ing the Lebanese Civil War. Far from the nostalgic coming-of-age 
story of two young men in the popular, similarly themed West Beirut 
(1998), these young women are treated cruelly and in turn treat each 
other cruelly. Lina, a young pubescent girl, struggles with the desires 


of maturation, parental neglect, and the vicious whims of her elders, 
whereas her aunt’s young maid, Siham, must negotiate the restraints 
of indentured servitude and erotic desire. Siham is Lina’s only friend 
and acts as a role model, but Lina’s privilege obstructs the possibility 
of a deeper trust. 

IN THE NAME OF THE LAW ( 1952 ). Based on a true story, this 
Turkish film directed by Liitfi O. Akad is an early Ye^il^am drama 
about a car mechanic, Nazim (Ayhan I§ik), who kills a friend for 
making a pass at his wife. The film’s historical importance derives 
largely from its technical innovativeness, which enabled it to convey 
its story with a simple and basic realist vocabulary. This involved 
refined continuity editing of action sequences complemented by the 
use of a mobile camera. In addition, Isik’s role as Nazim would help 
him become one of Yegilgam’s most famous stars. The character of 
Nazim reappears in Twenty Years Later (Osman Seden, 1972), which 
picks up after his release from prison, when he must struggle to heal 
his broken family (gangster son, drug-addicted daughter). 

IN THE SHADOWS OF THE CITY ( 2000 ). This first and only narra- 
tive film by Lebanese documentarians Mai Masri and Jean Cham- 
oun, respectively its producer and director, revisits the Lebanese 
Civil War through a semiautobiographical coming-of-age story. The 
film begins with bombs falling on southern Lebanon as the young 
adolescent. Rami, and his family escape the war by moving to Beirut. 
While the family struggles to secure employment and avoid mili- 
tary conscription, the violence creeps closer, until it consumes even 
those who have resisted taking sides. After his father is kidnapped 
and killed. Rami succumbs to rage and seeks vengeance by joining 
a militia with which he eventually becomes disillusioned. Fifteen 
years later, once the war is finally over. Rami is seen as a broken, 
middle-aged man. The film’s narrative dimension is complemented 
by archival footage taken by Chamoun during his many years record- 
ing the events of the civil war. 

INTIFADA. This term, meaning “shaking off,” refers to two popular 
Palestinian uprisings against Israel. The First Intifada began in 
December 1987 in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and 

192 • I'PEKgi iHSAN 

quickly spread among Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian 
Territories (OPTs) and Israel, officially ending after the 1993 Oslo 
Accords. Actions included civil disobedience, general strikes, boy- 
cotts of Israeli products, barricades, graffiti, and hoisting Palestinian 
flags — all deemed illegal by Israel. Yet it was the stone-throwing 
demonstrations by Palestinian youth against the armed Israel Defense 
Forces that brought the First Intifada international recognition, result- 
ing in many news accounts and documentaries. Some documen- 
taries focus on the Intifada’s impact on children, notably Children 
of Fire (Mai Masri, 1990), For Archives (Enas Muthaffar, 2001), 
Debris (Abdel Salem Shehada, 2002), and Arna’s Children (Juliano 
Mer/Danniel Danniel, 2003). Generally, Palestinians consider both 
Intifadas liberation struggles against foreign occupation, whereas 
Israelis consider them terrorist campaigns. We Are God’s Soldiers 
(Hanna Musleh, 1993), a story of two brothers, one supporting Fateh, 
the other Hamas, is an exception in its portrayal of internal Palestin- 
ian divisions. 

The Second Intifada (aka Al-Aqsa Intifada) refers to the second 
mass uprising, which began in September 2000 in Jerusalem and 
quickly spread widely to Palestinian areas. Violence intensified in 
comparison with the First Intifada, including suicide bombings car- 
ried out by Palestinians in Israel (of which Paradise Now [Hany 
Abu-Assad, 2005] offers a fictionalized account and Ford Transit 
[Abu-Assad, 2002] a documentary analysis) and Israeli-targeted at- 
tacks, arrests, incursions, and curfews (depicted in Jeremy Hardy 
vs. The Israeli Army [Leila Sansour, 2002], concerning a British 
comedian’s experiences in Bethlehem; Local [Imad Ahmed/Ismael 
Habash/Raed al-Helou, 2002], about three Ramallah cameramen 
trapped during a curfew; and Curfew [Rashid Masharawi, 1993]). 
Military destruction of towns and refugee camps is documented in 
Jenin, Jenin (Mohammed Bakri, 2002); Invasion (Nizar Hassan, 
2003), based largely upon an interview with an Israeli soldier who 
bulldozed homes in Jenin; and Still Life (Cynthia Madansky, 2004), 
an avant-garde expose of demolished houses and government build- 
ings in the OPTs. 

IPEKgi, IHSAN (1901-1966). One of the earliest producers of Turk- 
ish cinema, Salonika-born Ipckci first pursued an education in com- 


merce and law, then opened a cinema and began distributing Holly- 
wood films in Turkey. He worked frequently with Muhsin Ertugrul. 
In 1932, ipckci founded a film studio that dubbed foreign films into 
Turkish. In addition to writing some successful screenplays, ipckci 
continued producing films through the 1950s. 

IRAN / PERSIA. Iran is a large, multiethnic country, once the center of 
a larger Persian empire that stretched across Afghanistan into mod- 
em day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It is bordered by Iraq to the west, 
Turkey, Armenia, and independent Azerbaijan to the northwest, the 
Caspian Sea to the north, Turkmenistan to the northeast, Afghanistan 
and Pakistan to the east, and the Persian-Arabian Gulf to the south. 
Geographically it is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Elburz in 
the north, separating the capital, Tehran, from the Caspian Sea, and 
the Zagros, along the western border with Iraq, parts of which con- 
stitute Iranian Kurdistan. A high plain in central and western Iran 
is mostly desert. The national language, Persian or Farsi— after the 
south central province of Fars from which it originates — is spoken 
by about half the population, with many other languages prominent, 
including most notably Azeri in the region around Tabriz— Iranian 
Azerbaijan— in the northwest and Arabic in the oil-rich southwestern 
province of Khuzestan, once known as Arabistan. 

The dominant religion in Iran, since the founding of the Safavid 
dynasty in 1502, has been Twelver S h i ' i Islam. Shi ‘is believe that 
the succession of Islamic leaders, or imams, should pass down from 
Mohammed through a family line, beginning with the prophet’s 
son-in-law, Ali (the term Shi‘i means “follower of Ali”). The central 
event in defining Shi‘i identity is the death of Ali’s son Hossein at 
Karbala in present-day Iraq in 680. Hossein’s martyrdom, vastly 
outnumbered by the Caliph Yazid’s forces, is commemorated each 
year during Ashura, traditionally the occasion for pilgrimage, self- 
flagellation, and the re-creation of the events of 680 in the Iranian 
passion play, or ta’zieh, the influence of which on recent Iranian art 
cinema, particularly but by no means exclusively the films of Bah- 
rain Beyzai, has been frequently noted. Other distinctive cultural 
influences on Iranian cinema include the tradition of miniature paint- 
ing (in which scale and perspective do not follow post-Renaissance 
Western rules), coffee-house paintings and naqqali (storytelling), 


and farcical ruhowzi plays. Poetry has long been of central impor- 
tance within Iranian culture, some of its great masters being Jalaladin 
Rumi, whose verse is the epitome of Sufi expression; Ferdowsi, au- 
thor of the Persian national epic, the Shahnameh , and Hafez, whose 
words remain a national treasure trove of imagery — and a resource 
for fortune-tellers. 

Iranian cinema began with the filming of Muzaffared Shah’s trip 
to Ostend, Belgium, in 1900, captured by court photographer, Mirza 
Ebrahim Khan Akkasbashi, but no feature films were produced until 
Reza Khan, later Reza Shah Pahlavi, had become leader of the coun- 
try in 1922, after the Qajar dynasty crumbled in the face of a Consti- 
tutional Revolution (1905-1911). Grass (Merian C. Cooper/Ernest 
Schoedsack, 1924), a documentary record of the annual journey of 
the Bakhtiari tribe across raging river and high mountain to reach 
new pasture for their animals, was shot mostly in Iran and provides 
a fascinating insight into nomadic life and its challenges, while also 
imposing an orientalist perspective. Avanes Ohanian directed the 
first (silent) Iranian feature, a comedy, in 1930, and the first talkie, 
The Lor Girl (Ardeshir Irani), arrived from India— with which Iran 
has ancient linguistic and cultural ties — in 1933. Its writer, poet 
Abdolhossein Sepanta, variously produced, directed, and acted in 
a series of Indian-made films extolling the Shah’s reign. His epic 
approach was followed by Esmail Kushan, who founded the Mitra 
film company in Iran in 1948, and began producing the first domestic 
sound films. 

Friendliness towards the Germans in World War II led to the re- 
placement of Reza Shah with his son Mohammed Reza, instigated by 
Great Britain and Russia, traditional— and much resented— foreign 
powers in Iran. Although the new Shah’s power was challenged early 
by Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq’s attempts to nationalize 
Iranian oil, he established a powerful grip on the country following 
Mosaddeq’s removal from power by the Central Intelligence Agency. 
American documentary filmmakers, lead by a group from Syracuse 
University, made many documentaries, some implicitly or explicitly 
supportive of the Shah, during the 1950s, while Iran’s narrative 
cinema, dependent mostly on melodrama and romance, developed 
its own star system. Censorship ensured that material deemed 
damaging to the Shah’s image of himself and the country was not 


permitted, despite attempts by filmmakers such as Farrokh Ghaffari 
and Ebrahim Golestan to depict scenes of poverty and deprivation. 
1969, however, saw the release of two films. The Cow (Dariush 
Mahrjui) and Qeysar (Massud Kimiai), generally credited with her- 
alding the Iranian New Wave. The former is an allegorical art film 
made in collaboration with a writer (Gholamhossein Saedi) opposed 
to the Shah, and stage actors (Ezzatollah Entezami, Ali Nasirian) 
without ties to the industry; the latter, by contrast, is an updating of a 
popular genre in Iran, the luti film, and featured rising star Behrouz 

The Shah’s attempt to further legitimize his power through a 
grandiose celebration of the Iranian monarchy backfired, and he 
was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which at 
times targeted cinemas, seen as supportive of Western, Pahlavi, and 
un-Islamic values. Although many groups had fought against the 
Shah, Islamist forces prevailed, and, with the help of a unifying war 
against Iraq, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became Supreme 
Leader. Prerevolutionary stars were purged and new censorship 
restrictions, especially restrictive in regard to the representation of 
women, were introduced in 1982. Film projects must be reviewed 
at various stages of their production (script, cast and crew list, 
finished film) and must then apply for an exhibition certificate. Al- 
though this system has been modified in successive years, it remains 
largely functional. Much Iranian cinema has been created under the 
auspices of public institutions such as the Foundation of the Op- 
pressed and a Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, especially 
during the war years. 

Just as they did under the authoritarian rule of the Shah, some film- 
makers have been forced into or opted for exile. However, aspects 
of Iranian cinema have flourished since the Revolution. Beginning 
in 1986 with The Runner (Amir Naderi) and Bashu, the Little 
Stranger (Bahram Beyzai), a strong art cinema sector has devel- 
oped, supported by a governmental organization, the Farabi Cin- 
ema Foundation, and promoted by exhibition at major world film 
festivals. Its best-known member is Abbas Kiarostami, for whom 
international acclaim peaked with the award of Cannes’ Palme d’or 
for Taste of Cherry (1997). Kiarostami and others, such as Mehrjui 
and Beyzai, whose careers began before the Revolution, have been 


joined in the vanguard of Iranian cinema by a younger generation, 
including the prolific Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who has also created 
the Makhmalbaf Film House, largely as a training ground for other 
members of his family, including daughters Samira and Hana, who 
constitute a still-younger generation, born after the Revolution and 
thus reflective of the majority of the country’s youthful population. 
Makhmalbaf’ s daughters are not, however, the first women to make 
important contributions to Iranian cinema. Despite restrictions on 
their screen appearances, women have been able to attain positions of 
power behind the camera, Pouran Derekhshandeh, Rakshan Bani- 
Etemad, and Tamineh Milani among the most influential. In addi- 
tion, the pervasive influence of poet Forough Farrokhzad’s short 
documentary. The House Is Black (1962), on the recent flourishing 
of an auteur-based art cinema in Iran has often been noted. 

To some degree, Iranian cinema has acted as the country’s most 
effective ambassador overseas since the establishment of the Islamic 
Republic, and government officials have seemed to welcome this 
prestige at times. Especially under the administration of Mohammed 
Khatami, previously minister of culture and Islamic guidance and an 
artistically inclined intellectual, censorship restrictions were eased 
and cinema encouraged. Nevertheless, some of the most popular 
films abroad, such as the most recent work by Jafar Panahi, whose 
Offside (2006) presents a controversial re visioning of the ta’zieh, 
have been and remain banned at home, while the recognition ac- 
corded Kiarostami, for example, has commonly not been mirrored by 
the reception of his work in Iran. See also IRANIAN DOCUMEN- 

(IRDFA). IRDFA negotiates for increased aid and rights for the 
making, distributing, screening, and archiving of documentary 
films in Iran. Along with the 136 members of the Society of Iranian 
Documentary Filmmakers, IRDFA was instrumental in reactivating 
an office of documentary cinema in 1996. IRDFA was created inside 
Iran’s House of Cinema (Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds) 
in 1997 to aid in directing, producing, and distributing documentary 
films exclusively. Iran’s modern documentary film tradition goes 


back to the 1950s, when filmmakers such as Ebrahim Golestan, 
Farrokh Ghaffari, Fereydoon Rahnama, and Forough Farrokhzad 
made nonfiction cinema on social and political issues. Documentary 
production stagnated after the Islamic Iranian Revolution, since the 
new government viewed the depiction of “reality” with suspicion, 
especially if the films raised social, political, and gender issues. 

Documentary filmmaking was given a new impetus under the 
reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami, and the 
digital technology revolution has presented many low-cost options to 
documentary filmmakers. Venues such as the annual Kish Documen- 
tary Film Festival are dedicated to the continued growth of the docu- 
mentary genre, with such well-known directors as Rakshan Bani- 
Etemad participating in the competitions. IRDFA’s professional 
goals include expansion and development of Iranian documentary 
cinema’s “Art-Industry,” which foregrounds documentary films’ nec- 
essary connection to “parallel” and “experimental” cinema; defending 
the rights of documentarians; and establishing relations between Iran 
and the world’s artistic-cultural centers in order to make possible 
production, distribution, and exhibition of Iranian documentary films. 
As an impetus to increasing their visibility in the film festival circuit, 
IRDFA participates in the Fajr International Film Festival. 

IRANIAN NEW WAVE. This term indicates a disparate group of 
films that reinvigorated Iranian cinema from the late 1960s to the 
early 1970s. Iranian New Wave films fall into two distinct cat- 
egories, exemplified by the Massud Kimiai’s Qeysar (1969) and 
Dariush Mehrjui’s The Cow (1969), often seen as the movement’s 
founding titles. Qeysar rejuvenated the popular Iranian luti genre, 
retaining the reliance on stars (Behrouz Voroughi) and action, 
presented through inventive camera movement and a social realist 
aesthetic. The Cow somewhat shares this stylistic approach, but it 
eschews stars for theater actors (Ezzatollah Entezami, Ali Nasirian) 
and replaces melodramatic plot with one derived from modern litera- 
ture, a short story by Gholamhossein Saedi. Many of the films that 
followed and are commonly grouped as New Wave likewise paired 
a cinematic auteur with a well-known writer, often a dissident like 
Saedi. Again, like The Cow, many of these films were allegorical, 
containing implicit criticism of the Shah’s policies of authoritarian 


government, personal aggrandizement, and Westernization. As with 
many so-called film movements, however, the New Wave films were 
not homogenous, nor did they comprise the majority of those pro- 
duced in Iran during this period. In fact, popular cinema remained 
much as before, while many New Wave works met with greater suc- 
cess abroad than at home. 

Similarly, the Iranian New Wave did not spring out of nothing in 
1969. Two important directors who prefigured the movement are 
Ebrahim Golestan and Farrokh Ghaffari. Some directors associ- 
ated with it went into exile either before (Sohrab Shahid Saless) 
or after (Amir Naderi, Bahman Farmanara, Parviz Sayyad) the 
Iranian Revolution of 1979. Others who began their filmmaking 
careers in this period and may be linked with the New Wave include 
Abbas Kiarostami, Bahram Beyzai, and Nasser Taqvai, all of 
whom became important figures in the revival of Iranian art cinema 
and its increased prominence in film festivals during the later 1980s. 
Mehrjui and Kimiai have remained key figures, although some of the 
latter’s postrevolutionary work, such as Protest (2000), seems more 
commercial and remote from New Wave aesthetics. 

IRANIAN REVOFUTION. The Pahlavi shahs, Reza and Mohammed 
Reza, who succeeded his father under pressure from the Allies at the 
end of World War II, ruled Iran from 1922 until 1979. Although Mo- 
hammed Reza Shah’s rule had seemed vulnerable early in his reign, 
and he had left the country at the height of Prime Minister Moham- 
mad Mosaddeq’s efforts to wrest control of Iran’s huge oil deposits 
from the British in 1953, his position during the 1970s as he lavishly 
celebrated 50 years of Pahlavi rule and 2,500 years of presumed 
royal rule was apparently unassailable. He negotiated what he called 
a white (that is, bloodless) revolution in 1963, opposition to which 
came most vociferously from an obscure Muslim cleric, Ruhollah 
Khomeini, who was henceforth banished to Iraq. However, through- 
out 1978, opposition grew to the Shah and his Western- influenced, 
increasingly corrupt regime. Numerous political parties opposed the 
Shah, but the figurehead for many of them became Khomeini, whose 
revolutionary message was widely distributed by cassette tapes 
brought back to Iran by pilgrims to the holy cities of Iraq. 

IRAQ • 199 

One node of opposition to the Shah was the cinema, perceived 
as spreading corrupt Western values. As many as 180 theaters were 
destroyed in 1978, most notable among them, with great loss of life, 
the Rex in Abadan. Immediately after the Revolution (some newsreel 
documentary records of which exist, such as The Fall of ’57 [Barbod 
Taherei, 1979]), a variety of religious and secular groups used cin- 
ema to disseminate their messages. Khomeini, who consolidated his 
power while brutally suppressing leftists opposed to his ascent into 
supreme leadership, did not reject cinema per se, and from 1981, the 
Islamic regime assumed control of the film industry. Theaters were 
renamed and in some cases ritually cleansed, many prerevolutionary 
stars and some directors were blacklisted, and exhibition permits 
for many films currently in circulation were revoked. Organizations 
such as the Farabi Cinema Foundation and the Foundation of the 
Oppressed were established to support cinema, and the Ministry of 
Culture and Islamic Guidance instituted and oversaw a complex sys- 
tem of regulations and censorship. 


IRAQ. Known since 1958 as the Republic of Iraq, this third-most popu- 
lous Middle Eastern country is bordered to the north by Turkey, 
on the east by Iran, to the south by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and 
on the west by Syria and Jordan. Iraq’s ethnic population is com- 
posed of mainly Arab and Kurdish peoples, with Turkish, Assyrian, 
and Armenian minorities, most of whom follow Islam, with small 
percentages following Christianity and Judaism as well as Yazidi, 
Baha’i, Chaldean, and Mandaean religions. Arabic and Kurdish are 
the country’s official languages, with Persian, Turkish, Aramaic, and 
Syriac also spoken. Long a part of the Ottoman Empire, in 1918, 
Iraq was occupied by Britain. It then fell under the British Mandate 
in 1919 following the Versailles Treaty. The Mandate ended in 1932 
with formal independence, although the constitutional Hashemite 
monarchy of King Faisal, established under the Mandate in 1921, 
persisted until its overthrow in 1958. Ten years later, Iraq came un- 
der Ba‘th Party rule, and, from 1979 to 2003, under the authoritarian 
and brutal leadership of Saddam Hussein, the country experienced 

200 • IRAQ 

three wars: the Iran-Iraq War (aka in Iraq as the First Gulf War, 
1980-88), the Gulf War (aka in Iraq as the Second Gulf War, 1991), 
and the Anglo-American invasion and occupation (aka Iraq War, 
2003-present) — as well as 12 years of UN sanctions (1992-2004). 

Until 2003, the Ba‘th Party controlled all media and communica- 
tions in Iraq, including filmmaking. Iraq was originally subject to 
film expositions whose largely French products were screened in the- 
aters in Baghdad as early as 1909. Under the Mandate, documenta- 
ries were produced by the Iraqi Oil Corporation with British cinema- 
tographers, which projected Western perspectives on the country’s 
geography and culture. Only after World War II did a nascent film 
industry begin to develop. The new Studio of Baghdad participated 
in numerous co-productions with the film studios of Egypt (Cairo; 
Misr), Turkey (Ye§il?am), and Lebanon. 

Its first solo production was the popular Alia and Issam (Andre 
Shatan, 1948), an impossible love story between rival ethnicities. Be- 
cause of the remaining influence of colonialism and its dependence 
upon Egyptian artistry, Iraqi cinema of the 1940s and 1950s largely 
projected the orientalism that Egyptian cinema inherited from its 
European progenitors and benefactors. Later in the 1950s, however, a 
few independent production companies formed and produced a small 
number of “auteur” films — the neorealist Sa'id Effendi (Kameran 
Hosni, 1957), showcasing the Iraqi actor Yousif Al-‘Ani in the title 
role being the most renowned. This movement was short-lived due 
to inconsistent financial support and minimal access to necessary 
technology and equipment. 

After the 1958 revolution, private-sector filmmaking underwent 
a minor boom, although its primary products were entertainment 
vehicles serving to propagate the new regime. Among them, five 
have been considered critical successes: Nebuchadnezar (Kamel 
al-Azawi, 1962), a historical epic and Iraq’s first film in color; Abu 
Hella (Mohammed Shukri Jamil/Youssef Gergis, 1962), a comedy 
about generational conflict; Autumn Leaves (Hikmet Labib, 1963), 
an impossible love story involving an Iraqi living in Lebanon; The 
Night Watchman (Khalil Chawqi, 1968), an intrigue about a guard 
who falls desperately in love with a widow despite her love of other 
men; and The Turning (Jaf’ar ‘Ali, 1974), a multiperspectival drama 
analyzing the contradictions of revolutionary ideology as developed 

IRAQ WARS • 201 

under monarchical rule. The first film festival in Iraq, held in 1966 
at the Al-Rashid Cinema in Baghdad, however, showcased only com- 
mercial films of this period, as well as prerevolutionary successes. 

Subsequent film festivals in 1978 and 1980, held after the state 
expropriation of private-sector filmmaking by the General Organi- 
zation of Cinema and Theater (GOCT), focused on the Palestinian 
struggle. Established in 1959 under the auspices of the Ministry 
of Culture and Orientation, the GOCT, headed by Yousif Al-‘Ani, 
initially oversaw the production of pro-regime educational documen- 
taries and a few full-length features. In 1972, it expanded operations 
on behalf of seven government sector ministries represented within 
the organization and in accordance with a series of six cinema devel- 
opment plans. The bulk of Iraq’s quality film production occurred 
during this period, when, along with the importation of Egyptian 
directors — Fuad Al-Tuhami ( The Enterprise [1977]), Tawfik Saleh 
( Long Days [1980]), and Salah Abu Seif ( The Battle of Al-Qadissiya 
[1981])— the GOCT began encouraging Iraqis, many trained in the 
United States, to direct feature films. Noteworthy among them are 
Faisal al-Yasseri (The River [1977]; The Sniper [1980]) and Mo- 
hammed Shukri Jamil ( The Thirsty [1972]; The Walls [1979]; The 
Big Question [1983]). Although in 1980, a film school was finally 
established at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, the Iran-Iraq 
War drained the country’s disposable resources, so that national film 
production effectively ended by 1983. 

IRAQ WARS ( also GULF WAR). Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s 
1991 invasion of Kuwait, an attempt to secure that country’s oil 
fields, was met with a massive United Nations (UN) sanctioned 
military incursion known as Operation Desert Storm and, eventually 
(as it is known in Iraq), the Second Gulf War. Hussein’s maneuver 
was viewed favorably by some Middle Eastern groups, including 
the Palestine Liberation Organization and supporters in Egypt and 
the Maghreb, and was an issue of central concern to The Gulf War 
. . . What Next? (1991), a portmanteau film comprised of short- 
film contributions by Borhane Alaouie, Nouri Bouzid, Nejia Ben 
Mabrouk, Mustapha Derkaoui, and Elia Suleiman, as well as to 
Bouzid’s later Making Of ( 2005). The 1991 Gulf War and its after- 
math, which entailed 12 years of UN economic sanctions, saw the 

202 • IRAQ WARS 

deaths of approximately one million Iraqis, half of whom were chil- 
dren who had succumbed to diseases caused by the environmental 
destruction wrought by chemical weaponry used during Operation 
Desert Storm— the topic of Zaman: The Man from the Reeds (Amer 
Alwan, 2003). A similar approach to the environmental damage 
consequent on the Iraq War of 2003 is the topic of Testimonies from 
Falluja (Hamodi Jasim, 2005) and The Dreams of Sparrows (Hayder 
Mousa Daffar, 2005). 

With the increasing availability and relative economic accessibil- 
ity of digital video equipment, a wave of documentaries about the 
1991 Gulf War and subsequent Iraq War of 2003 emerged during the 
early 2000s, most of them directed by U.S. -based filmmakers, many 
in the context of impending presidential elections. While the quality, 
both formal and analytic, of Audrey Brohy and Gerard Ungerman’s 
Hidden Wars of Desert Storm (2001) and The Oil Factor: Behind the 
War on Terror (2005) is questionable, subsequent films demonstrated 
an improvement in what since has become a veritable genre of docu- 
mentaries offering critical analysis of both military invasions. 

A second massive, U.S. -backed military bombardment and ensu- 
ing military occupation led by President George W. Bush, Operation 
Iraqi Freedom, and the ensuing occupation of Iraq, have been met 
with far less international support in the West than the Gulf War 
of 1991, the British government under Tony Blair being the most 
important exception (despite public disapproval across the United 
Kingdom). The justification and rationale for its actions supplied by 
the U.S. via the mainstream corporate media has been the subject 
of numerous documentaries. Most noteworthy are Scenes from an 
Endless War (200 1-2002) (Norman Cowie, 2002), WMD: Weapons 
of Mass Destruction (Danny Schechter, 2004), Preventive Warriors 
(Michael Burns, 2004), Uncovered: The War on Iraq (Robert Gre- 
enwald, 2003/4), the French The World According to Bush (William 
Karel, 2004), Control Room (Jehane Noujam, 2004), Fahrenheit 9/11 
(Michael Moore, 2004), Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the 
Selling of American Empire (Media Education Foundation, 2004), 
The PSA Project (Cynthia Madansky, 2005), Iraq for Sale: The War 
Profiteers (Greenwald, 2006), and No End in Sight (Charles Fergu- 
son, 2007). 


Documentaries bearing witness to the effects of the bombardment 
and ensuing fragmentation of an already compromised Iraqi society 
include About Baghdad (2003), made by an independent film col- 
lective, InCounter Productions, and directed by Iraqi exile Sinan 
Antoon, in consultation with International Solidarity Movement 
co-founder Adam Shapiro, and other anti-war activists; Visit Iraq 
(2003), directed by exiled Palestinian Kamal Aljafari; War Is Over 
(2003), directed by Kurdish-Iranian filmmaker Bahman Qobadi; 
Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006), produced by the Iraq 
Media Action Project of Working Films; My Country, My Country 
(Laura Poitras, 2006); the Australian My Home, Your War (Kylie 
Grey, 2006), perhaps the first of the “genre” to offer a genuinely 
balanced analysis of the war’s effects on Iraqi women; and Meeting 
Resistance (Molly Bingham/Steve Connors, 2007). Additional films 
have subsequently emerged concerning the war’s effects on U.S. 
soldiers and their role in the conflict. These include Gunner Palace 
(Mike Tucker/Petra Epperlein, 2004), The War Tapes (Deborah 
Scranton, 2004), Body of War (Phil Donahue/Ellen Spiro, 2007), and 
Full Battle Rattle (Tony Gerber/Jesse Moss, 2008). A docudrama in 
this vein based upon diaries and personal testimonies of both Iraqis 
and U.S. soldiers is Battle for Haditha (Nick Broomfield, 2007). 
Since 2007, several films have focused on torture at U.S. military 
detention centers, notably The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (Rory Kennedy, 
2007), Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, 2008), and Taxi 
to the Dark Side (Alex Gibney, 2007), the latter of which won a 2008 
Academy Award for Best Documentary. 

Several Hollywood films have also been made about these wars, 
including Courage Under Fire (Edward Zwick, 1996), Three Kings 
(David O. Russell, 1999), Live from Baghdad (Mick Jackson, 2002), 
Jarhead (Sam Mendes, 2005), and The Jacket (John Maybury, 2005), 
as well as the South African-United Kingdom co-production. Brave 
Two Zero (Tom Clegg, 1999), all regarding the 1991 Gulf War; 
and Home of the Brave (Irwin Winkler, 2006), co-produced with 
Morocco, The Situation (Philip Haas, 2006), Charlie Wilson’s War 
(Mike Nichols, 2007), In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis, 2007), 
Redacted (Brian De Palma, 2007), Grace Is Gone (James C. Strouse, 
2007), Delta Farce (C. B. Harding, 2007), a comedy, Stop-Loss 


(Kimberly Peirce, 2008), and The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 
2008), all regarding the Iraq War. In addition, the Turkish post- 
Ye§ik;am blockbuster, Valley of the Wolves, Iraq (Serdar Akar, 
2005), had a major impact in many pails of the world, while Egypt’s 
blackly comic The Night Baghdad Fell (Muhammad Amin, 2006) 
features a schoolteacher who believes that Egypt is next in line for 
attack. The film uses sexual violence as a metaphor for military inva- 
sion and restages a well-known image of abuse from the photographs 
taken at Abu Ghraib prison. 

CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS. This special-interest film 
and video festival has been held in September-October in Isfahan, 
Iran, since 1985. Originally part of the Fajr International Film 
Festival, Isfahan is now an autonomous venue for screening features 
films, animation films, short films, and videos that address children 
or concern children’s issues. 

I§IK, AYHAN (1929-1979). Known as the “king” of Turkish cinema, 
I§ik studied painting before winning an acting competition organized 
by a magazine in 1951. During the early Ye§il?am period, he ap- 
peared in several films before attempting unsuccessfully to work in 
Hollywood in 1959. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, he ap- 
peared in nearly 200 films, ranging from melodramas to action adven- 
tures, crime films, and historical dramas — everything except village 
or rural dramas, a gap filled by the so-called “ugly king” of Turkish 
cinema, Yilmaz Giiney. With his urban persona, I§ik appeared in 
classic Yes i I cam dramas, playing a murderer in In the Name of the 
Law (Liitfi O. Akad, 1952) and a bus driver in The Bus Passengers 
(Ertem G6re£, 1961). With Belgin Doruk, he formed a classic 1960s 
couple in the Little Lady ( Kiigiik Hammefendi) romantic comedy 
series. I§ik made only a limited number of films during the mid to 
late 1970s, including a series of Italian-Turkish co-productions such 
as the mad-scientist thriller. Lover of the Monster (Sergio Garrone, 
1974), with Klaus Kinski. 

ISLAM ( also ISLAMIST). Islam, the world’s largest religion, is the 
dominant faith in the Middle East, where it was founded and in 

ISLAM • 205 

which much of its learning continues to be centered, although the 
countries with the biggest Muslim populations — Indonesia, Pakistan, 
India, and Bangladesh— lie elsewhere, in Central and South Asia, and 
Muslim countries exist in sub-Saharan Africa as well. Like Christian- 
ity and Judaism, Islam is monotheistic and claims direct descent from 
the biblical patriarch, Abraham. The Islamic deity is referred to as 
Allah , the Arabic word for “the God,” who is omnipotent and omni- 
scient, and the Islamic holy texts are the Qur’an— or Koran— which 
is professed to have been revealed to the Prophet Mohammed in the 
seventh century on the Arabian peninsula; the Sunnah, containing 
the deeds and sayings ( hadiths ) of the Prophet; and th efiqhs, learned 
interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The holiest Muslim city is 
Mecca, now in Saudi Arabia, to which every Muslim is expected 
to complete a pilgrimage (hajj) at least once. Islam itself connotes 
peaceful, contractual submission; it sets out five ethical obligations, 
or “pillars,” in addition to the hajj: fasting (sawm), prayer (salat), 
charity (zakat) , and faith ( shahadah ), all observed with special 
diligence during Islam’s annual month-long holiday, Ramadan. A 
Muslim’s life-long struggle to fulfill these obligations and to protect 
the world of Islam ( ummah ) is referred to as jihad, part and parcel 
of which is ijtihad, a sustained independent, creative and reasoned 
effort to interpret Shari ‘ah (Islamic provisions for regulating human 
behavior derived from the Qur’an and the hadiths) with the aim of 
envisioning social change and a better future. 

Throughout its nearly 1,300-year history, Islam has undergone 
occasional sectarian division, the most significant being that be- 
tween the much larger Sunni group, which comprises more than 85 
percent of Muslims, and the smaller Shi’i group. The latter believes 
that earthly leadership of the Muslim faith is passed down through 
Mohammed’s direct descendents, beginning with Ali, the Prophet’s 
cousin and son-in-law and the fourth Sunni caliph (the term, shi'i, 
means “followers of Ali”). As such, Shi'is reject what Sunnis claim 
is the legitimacy of the first three Sunni caliphs. The distinctive event 
of Shi’i belief, however, is the martyrdom of Hussein, Ali’s second 
son, and his small band of followers at Karbala in modern-day Iraq 
in 780, an event that is commemorated each year as Ashura. To- 
day, Shi’is dominate the population of Iran, are a majority in Iraq 
and Bahrain, and comprise substantial minorities in Lebanon and 

206 • ISLAM 

Yemen. They also usually comprise the poorer populations in coun- 
tries in which they do not hold majority. While Sunnis may be divided 
broadly into four schools of law, Shi‘is are divided into three broad 
branches— the Zaydis (mostly of those in Yemen), and the Isma’ilis 
or Seveners and Ithna Asharis or Twelvers (as in Iran)— depend- 
ing on how many imams, or religious leaders, they acknowledge. 
Multiple smaller Islamic sects also exist throughout the Middle East, 
notably the Druze in Lebanon, Palestine-Israel, and Syria, and the 
Alawites in Syria, both sometimes viewed as branches of Shi‘ism. 
In Lebanon, major government posts and seats in the legislature are 
reserved for members of the respective religious groups, and a simi- 
lar policy has been implemented in Iraq. In Israel, Druze may serve 
in the armed forces, whereas (other) Muslims and Christians may 
not. These procedures reflect the frequent conflation of religion with 
ethnic background in the Middle East. Thus, religious affiliation is 
marked on identity cards in many countries, including Egypt, Israel, 
and Iraq, without regard to a person’s degree of religious observance 
or sectarian loyalty. 

Islam has recently experienced a popular revival in the Middle 
East. In response to a perceived turning away of the world from God, 
and in reaction to foreign influence in the age of transnationalism, 
Islamists or Islamic activists, sometimes called fundamentalists, who 
are usually members of religiously oriented political and social orga- 
nizations, have advocated for strict state enforcement of Shari ‘ah. In 
many Arab countries, such advocacy has been opposed by more mod- 
erate movements representing the Islamic mainstream ( Wassatteyya ). 
The Egyptian “New Islamists,” for example, emphasize Islam’s inte- 
grative world view, derived from the Covenant of Medina, for which 
religious and ethnic pluralism are central; they uphold Islam’s ethical 
commitment to the rule of law {‘adil )— as opposed to monarchy and 
dictatorship— by practicing a form of distributive knowledge ( ‘ilm) 
that involves consultation ( shura ) and consensus ( ijma ‘ ) and that is 
accountable to both the Islamic community ( khilafah ) and the world 
to come ( akhirah ). Islamist movements have generally been opposed 
by relatively secular and frequently repressive governments, as in 
prohibitions against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a similar pol- 
icy in Syria, and the Algerian government’s suppression of Islamism 
in that country. Disillusionment with pan-Arabist and Arab social- 

ISLAM • 207 

ist endeavors represented by such governments, especially after the 
1967 Defeat in the Six-Day War against Israel and in the Maghreb 
following Soviet bloc dismantlement, have also increased support for 
Islamism— as have consistent failures to prevent Israel’s incursions 
in southern Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 
Outside the Arab world, in Iran, the Iranian Revolution of 1979 led 
to the establishment of an Islamic Republic under the guidance of a 
Supreme Leader, whereas in Turkey, determinedly secular since the 
reforms instituted by Mustafa Kemal Atatiirk, the 2000s have seen 
increasing debate about the enforcement of a religion-state divide by 
the Army, catalyzed by the removal of the ban on wearing the Mus- 
lim headscarf ( turban ) in universities and other public institutions. 

Religious proscriptions against images, derived from specific in- 
terpretations of the Qur’an, have led to some resistance to cinema in 
parts of the Muslim world, and it remains still severely monitored in 
Saudi Arabia, where the ultraconservative Wahhabi sect, vehemently 
opposed to idolatry, is dominant. Depiction of the Prophet, the first 
four caliphs, and sometimes other Islamic notables remains gener- 
ally forbidden. Thus, The Message (Mustapha Akad, 1976), a film 
that tells the story of Mohammed and the origins of Islam, refrained 
from revealing the faces of the actors playing the Prophet (there 
were two, since two different versions of the film— an Arabic and an 
Anglophone— were made). Despite this and the film’s approval by a 
considerable number of Islamic scholars. The Message was banned 
in several Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia. 

Islam is either foregounded as a critical issue or remains in the 
quotidian background of many films made in Arab countries. The 
Coptic Christian, Youssef Chahine, Egypt’s leading auteur, who had 
celebrated Saladin as an exemplar of Islamic tolerance and fortitude 
during the battle against Christian Crusaders trying to retake Jerusa- 
lem in Saladin (1963), broke the taboo on depicting Qur’anic proph- 
ets by portraying a version of Joseph in The Emigrant (1994). The 
film was banned in Egypt and its director charged with blasphemy. 
In the same year, the stabbing of his friend and collaborator Naguib 
Mahfouz solidified Chahine’ s opposition to the growing regional 
influence of Islamism. The attack is allegorized in Destiny (Chahine, 
1997), in which Muslim traditions of tolerance, learning, and joie 

208 • ISLAM 

de vivre are set against emergent, protofundamentalist beliefs in 
12th-century Andalusia, and a singer is murderously attacked. In The 
Other (1999), Chahine links the rise of fanatical forms of Islam to 
the transnational capitalist ideology represented by the United States, 
positioning them as two sides of the same coin for their mutual ten- 
dency to reject contradictory beliefs and their consequent foreclosure 
of life’s opportunities. Islamic texts opposed to the practices of cin- 
ema have appeared periodically in Egypt, and a flurry of them, often 
emphasizing inappropriate portrayals of women, may have provoked 
around 20 Egyptian actresses to start wearing the Muslim headscarf 
(. hijab ) between the late 1980s and 1994. Most notable among these 
was the singer Shadia, who abandoned cinema after nearly 100 
films. A decontextualized analysis of the hopes raised by Islamism 
among the poor is supplied by Chahine’ s protege, Atef Hetata, in The 
Closed Doors (1999); while a comic approach that— like Chahine’s 
The Other— emphasizes hypocritical elements of Islamism, is ex- 
emplified by The Terrorist (Nader Galal, 1994), featuring Egypt’s 
biggest star, Adel Imam, as a poor and sexually repressed man who 
begins engaging in political violence in order to acquire money and a 
wife. He is forced to shelter with a secular, upper-class family in an 
echo of the classic A Man in Our House (Henri Barakat, 1961). 

Islam and Islamism have also been the subject of numerous films 
by Maghrebi and beur directors. In Tunisia, several films that chal- 
lenge Islamic taboos on issues of gender and sexuality have been 
made, notably those of Nouri Bouzid, who also directed Making Of 
(2005), which addresses the lure of Islamism for young Tunisians at a 
time of political repression and economic struggle. A Door to the Sky 
(Farida Benlyazid, 1988), on the other hand, is the story of a West- 
ernized woman’s rediscovery of Islam upon her return to Morocco, 
and her creation of a zawiya (or refuge) for abused women; however, 
it advocates Sufism, a mystical, individualized form of the religion, 
thus seemingly rejecting more organized alternatives. Algerian Mer- 
zak Allouache’s Bab el-Oued City (1994), filmed in Algeria during 
the civil war, shows the struggle against Islamism by following the 
story of a young man who removes a loudspeaker used to call people 
to prayers that keep disturbing him. Many of the few Algerian films 
made during the 2000s have concerned Islamist violence, notably 
Viva Algeria (Nadir Mokneche, 2004) and the first films of Yamina 

ISLAM • 209 

Bachir-Chouikh ( Rachida , 2002) and Djamila Sahraoui {Enough!, 
2006). Some filmmakers, for example, Jean-Pierre Lledo, have 
emigrated to France in response to the perceived threat of Islamist 
violence, while many — including Allouache — have continued to al- 
ternate between regions. Mahmoud Zemmouri returned to France to 
direct 100% Arabica (1997), a satire on Islamism that included much 
rai music, opposed by Islamists for its lyrics celebrating earthly 
pleasures, after which he received death threats. The Casablancans 
(Abdelkader Lagtaa, 1998) concerns the influence of Islamism in 
schools in Morocco. 

In Iran, where cinema became a flashpoint in the revolution, 
notably in the Rex Cinema arson attack, the triumphant Ayatollah 
Ruhollah Khomeini was careful to distinguish the hated cinema of 
the Shah’s time from cinema per se, which he apparently enjoyed, 
having earlier approved of anti-Shah films such as The Cow (Dari- 
ush Mehrjui, 1968). Nevertheless, restrictive censorship regula- 
tions were maintained after the revolution, although they were eased 
somewhat by Mohammed Khatami, both during the period in which 
he headed the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance and later, 
when he became president. Khatami’s view is encapsulated by the 
phrase: “The cinema is not the mosque”; indeed, this was true in 
postrevolutionary Iran in more than one sense, since the perceived 
threat of censorship in the case of Islam’s inappropriate depiction 
led paradoxically to its complete erasure from the great majority of 
Iranian films. In The Lizard (Kamal Tabrizi, 2004), however, in 
which Parviz Parastui stars as a thief who escapes from jail dressed 
as a mullah and is forced to maintain this identity, clerical privilege, 
pomposity, and pedantry are satirized. The film was very popular 
both with domestic audiences and in the wider Persian exile com- 
munity. Abbas Kiarostami and Bahram Beyzai, meanwhile, have 
pointed to the important influence on their cinematic self-reflexivity 
of the traditional Shi "i ta’zieh play, in which the martyrdom of Imam 
Hussein at Karbala is restaged. Outside the country, world-renowned 
video artist Shirin Neshat, of Iranian descent, has focused much of 
her work— for example, Women of Allah (1993-1997) and Rapture 
(1999)— on the struggles of women under Islam in Iran. 

While Y e^il^am, the Turkish film industry, has produced a variety of 
historical religious films, Islam only found a direct presence in Turkish 

210 • ISRAEL 

cinema in a limited number of Islamist films, which first appeared 
during the 1970s in the context of “true” national cinema debates. 
However, the genre was most prominent during the early 1990s, 
after the demise of Ycsilcam, when political Islam in Turkey gained 
strength, and Yiicel (^akmakli made it the subject of cinematic dis- 
cussion. His Abdullah of Minye (1989), which portrays Islamists in 
a fictional Egypt that represents Turkey, is an example of “white cin- 
ema”— films that advocated religious purity and morality. However, 
among the more than 7,000 feature films made in Turkey, the total 
number concerning Islam and Islamism amounts to less than 100. 

ISRAEL. Also known as the Jewish State, Israel is located on the 
west coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in a West Asian region known 
as the Levant, or Fertile Crescent, within the western territories of 
historic Palestine. To its north lies Lebanon, to its northeast, Syria, 
to its east, Jordan, and to its southwest, Egypt. Ruled by the Otto- 
man Empire from 1516 until the end of World War I, and populated 
historically by Arabs of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Baha’i 
religions, the region came under British Mandate between 1923 and 
1948. In November 1947, the United Nations proposed to divide 
the region into two countries, one Zionist (Israel) and one Arab 
(Palestine), but the terms of General Assembly Resolution 181 (the 
“Partition Plan”) ultimately were not satisfactory to either grouping, 
and on 15 May 1948, one day following the declaration of the Jewish 
State of Israel, a war erupted between Zionist forces and the armies 
of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, which had entered Pal- 
estine to support Palestinian irregular forces and the Arab Liberation 
Army (sponsored by the Arab League). The war ended in July 1949, 
with a Zionist victory that expanded Israel’s borders beyond those 
designated by Resolution 181, with the loss of more than 500 Pal- 
estinian Arab villages, and the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian 
Arabs. The West Bank of the Jordan River was assigned to Jordanian 
rule and the Gaza Strip to Egyptian rule; both were relinquished to 
Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, beginning what is known as the 
Israeli Occupation. Since then, the region has continued to be riven 
by conflict and irresolution. 

Israeli and Palestinian cinemas differ widely in their historical 
origins and institutional support; yet, they also parallel each other in 

ISRAEL • 211 

their attempts to project the historical continuity of their respective 
societies, and their individual and collective struggles, both against 
each other and against outside forces— whether with respect to the 
Holocaust in the case of Israelis or against a perceived global silenc- 
ing in the case of Palestinians. 

Film production in Israel has been dominated historically and 
ideologically by the Israeli state apparatus and Zionism. Although the 
first films to depict the Levant were actualite documentaries pro- 
duced and directed by the French Lumiere brothers in 1896 for Euro- 
pean and North American distribution, Israeli cinema begins properly 
with films directed by Ashkenazi— Eastern European— emigres to 
Palestine for the purpose of propagating Zionism during the Brit- 
ish Mandate. One of these, Ya’akov Ben-Dov, an early member of 
the Jewish-Palestinian cultural institute, Bezalel School of Arts and 
Crafts, began making newsreels and short documentaries after World 
War I depicting the Zionist agricultural colonization of Palestine 
(the “ yishuv ”). Ben-Dov’s films received financial backing from the 
Jewish National Fund (JNF), an international organization founded 
in 1901 to raise money for the establishment and maintenance of a 
Jewish state in the Levant, and its rival British organization, the Pal- 
estine Foundation Fund (PFF), founded in 1920 and becoming the 
United Israel Appeal in 1948. Ben-Dov’s directing reached its height 
during the late 1920s, with the PFF-produced The Land of Promise 
(1925), perhaps his most noteworthy success. Although he stopped 
directing in 1933, his films continued to be screened throughout the 
1930s in Europe by United Zionists for Germany, a Jewish organiza- 
tion that supported National Socialism. Other early Zionist filmmak- 
ers include Natan Axelrod, who in 1932 co-directed the first Zionist 
feature, Oded the Wanderer ; his co-director, Chaim Halachmi; and 
Baruch Agadati, originally a dancer whose newsreel shorts included 
the 1932 Levant Fair and Maccabiah Games and the 1933 funeral of 
assassinated Zionist Chaim Arlosoroff. The representational quality 
of the majority of these nostalgic, mostly pastoral films led them to 
be characterized aesthetically as “Zionist realism,” a modification 
of Soviet socialist realism and agitprop. After the establishment of 
the Jewish State in 1948, the Israel Film Service of the Ministry of 
Education and Culture continued the production of documentaries 
and newsreels for fundraising purposes; intended for distribution in 

212 • ISRAEL 

the United States and Canada, such films were made primarily in 

Contrasting its early development is the fact that between 1948 and 
the 1993 Oslo Accords, the bulk of Israeli cinema has been marketed 
primarily to domestic Jewish audiences. Noteworthy exceptions in- 
clude films directed by Eli Cohen, which received international atten- 
tion during that period; independent films by post-Zionist iconoclast, 
Amos Gitai; and increasingly critical, if less experimental, films by a 
younger generation of cineastes, including Ra’anan Alexandrowicz 
and Eyal Sivan. Later shifts in the Israeli film industry back toward 
international audiences were effects partly of the country’s neoliber- 
alization following the 1979 election of the first Likud (right-wing) 
government and served to some extent as a public relations effort to 
improve the image of Israel abroad following its facilitative role in 
the 1982 massacre by the Lebanese Phalange of 3,000 Palestinians in 
the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, and military reac- 
tion to the First Intifada. 

The matrix of funding for post- 1948 Israeli cinema has remained 
international, with the JNF contributing philanthropically from Jew- 
ish communities in North America and Europe, and the United States 
granting Israel more than any other country annually — without which 
Israel could not continue to support both its military-intelligence ap- 
paratus and its state -run social services. Despite that international 
base, the establishment of the Jewish State supplied the rationale for 
local film distribution and the opening of national production facili- 
ties: the Israeli Motion Picture Studios in Herzliyah (1949) and the 
Geza Film Studios in Givatayim (1952), later to become the Berkey- 
Humphries Studio, which merged in 1988 to form United Studios of 
Israel. State funding vehicles were also established: the Bill for the 
Promotion of Israeli Films (1954), later revised and updated by the 
Ministry of Culture as the Fund for the Promotion of Israeli Quality 
Films (1979) and, following neoliberal budget cuts, the New Israeli 
Fund for Film and Television (1993) and the Bill for Cinema (1998), 
both of which have come under the additional auspices of the Minis- 
try of Industry and Trade. The gradual privatization of Israeli cinema 
was exemplified by producer-director Menachem Golan’s Golan 
76-Globus Studios, which in 1979 became Cannon Films, perhaps 

ISRAEL *213 

the first genuinely transnational film production company, special- 
izing in exploitation genres, often made-for-television. 

The stylistic tendencies of postindependence Israeli cinema evi- 
denced a shift from nostalgic pastoralism to the heroic war genre, in 
which realism was altered to suit the codes of melodrama. The most 
well-known Israeli war films are They Were Ten (Baruch Dienar, 
1954) and Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer (1954), directed by an American, 
Thorold Dickinson. Comedies which centered on stereotyped Miz- 
rahi Jews— Jews from Middle Eastern countries— also became pop- 
ular at this time, forming the indigenous bourekas genre, of which 
the earliest and most prolific director was a Jewish Iraqi, George 
Ovadiah, who began his filmmaking career while living in Iran from 
1949 to 1969. The most renowned bourekas film, however, is Sal- 
lach Shabbati (1964), directed by an Ashkenazi Jew from Hungary, 
Ephraim Kishon. Commercial sex farces and national satires also 
found form during this period of cinematic industrialization. One of 
the sex genre’s most popular directors, Uri Zohar, renounced these 
films when he subsequently left the industry to join an orthodox Jew- 
ish sect— a move allegorized favorably, if subtly, in Ushpizin (Giddi 
Dar, 2004). 

Israeli cinema’s stylistic and ideological orientation shifted follow- 
ing the Six-Day War of 1967. The Israeli Occupation’s incorporation 
of 400,000 additional Palestinians under Israeli administration was 
seen as a threat to the Jewish demographic superiority thought neces- 
sary to justify the state’s Zionist character. In an effort to manage and 
contain ensuing public controversies and political rifts over the situ- 
ation, the Israeli film industry began producing films that expressed 
war-weariness, often criticizing excessive militarism, and tending to 
offer less epic, more individualistic perspectives and characters. 

What developed into Young Israeli Cinema also prompted 
reevaluation of the bourekas genre toward more sympathetic, if 
nonetheless typified, portrayals of Mizrahi Jews in films directed 
by Kishon as well as by Golan, whose Kazablan (1973), a “forbid- 
den love” story between a Mizrahi man and an Ashkenazi woman, 
was Israel’s first full-scale musical. By the same token, the Second 
Television and Radio Authority of the Israeli Film Center instituted 
formal film censorship in 1969. Not until the late 1980s, following 

214 • ISRAEL 

the publication by Israeli New Historians of previously undisclosed 
information about the Nakba and Israeli Occupation during the years 
surrounding the First Intifada would mainstream Israeli cinema be- 
gin casting Palestinian actors in more sympathetic, Arabic-speaking 
roles. At the same time, Israeli cinema also initiated concerted focus 
on the Holocaust. 

Meanwhile, Israeli cinema, with the promotional support of Israf- 
est and other film festivals, has become increasingly visible interna- 
tionally, developing and expanding a second wave of Young Israeli 
Cinema. The personal focus of many of these films attempts to pro- 
vide a lost or submerged Israeli quotidian, but also inadvertently may 
allegorize profound anxiety, an updated form of 1950s-1960s “siege 
mentality.’’ Examples include The Flying Camel (Rami Na’aman, 
1994), featuring Alessandra Mussolini as an Italian nun whose mi- 
raculous kindness along with support from a Palestinian construction 
worker ( Avanti Popolo ’ s Salim Dau) help prevent the demolition 
of an elderly Israeli’s condemned home; and Secrets (Avi Nesher, 
2007), in which a young orthodox Jewish woman who bonds sexu- 
ally with her female yeshiva friend while helping a dying Christian 
pilgrim, a released felon, atone for her violent crime, agrees to share 
her love with the orthodox man her friend eventually marries. To fa- 
cilitate this shift in orientation, in 1991 the Israeli Censorship Board 
was disbanded, and the role of censorship was assumed directly by 
the Ministry of the Interior. 

Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, the Israeli film industry has set up 
production sites and companies in the Occupied Palestinian Ter- 
ritories that are nominally Palestinian-run, which produce oriental- 
ist films about, directed by, and starring Palestinians, such as Thirst 
(Tewfik Abu Wael, 2004), produced by Zimaon Limited Partnership, 
and Al-Jisr: The Bridge (Ebtisam Ma’arana, 2004), produced by the 
New Israeli Fund for Film and Television. A growing body has also 
emerged of Israeli-made documentaries that address social problems 
within Palestinian-Israeli society outside the matter of political con- 
flict, such as The Garden (Adi Barsh/Ruthie Shatz, 2003), a verite 
study of two young Arab male prostitutes in Tel Aviv; as well as 
those that are critical of the reoccupation, such as Checkpoints (Yoav 
Shamir, 2003) and One Shot (Nurit Kedar, 2004), both of which have 
been utilized for Israeli military training purposes. 


ISRAELI OCCUPATION. This watershed event in Middle Eastern 
history refers to the 1967 annexation by Israel of Palestinian terri- 
tories controlled since 1949 by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. The West 
Bank and East Jerusalem, Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula, and Gaza 
Strip, respectively, would come to comprise the Occupied Palestin- 
ian Territories (OPTs) following Israel’s six-day military campaign 
of June 1967 (hence known as the Six-Day War) to regain access to 
the Egyptian-controlled Straits of Tiran. These had been closed to 
Israeli shipping by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Israel’s 
apparently defensive campaign quickly developed into an expansion- 
ist operation, referred to as the Naksa (“setback”) by Palestinians, in 
which thousands of soldiers were killed and an additional 400,000 
Palestinians were forced into exile. An ensuing War of Attrition 
culminated in the Yom Kippur-Ramadan War of October 1973, in 
which the Israel Defense Forces sustained its largest number of war- 
time casualties ever, and the Israeli film industry shifted production 
away from heroic war films to works more critical of the country’s 
political militarism. These wars are treated variously in Far from 
Their Country (Qais al-Zubeidi, 1970), Testimonies of Palestinians 
in Times of War (al-Zubeidi, 1972), The Sparrow (Youssef Chahine, 
1973), The Half-Meter Incident (Samir Zikra, 1980), Avanti Popolo 
(Rafi Bukai, 1986), and Kippur (Amos Gitai, 2000). 

In 1979, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt under the 
auspices of the Camp David Accords negotiated by United States 
President Jimmy Carter between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat 
and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, whereas East Jerusalem 
and the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights have remained in 
Israeli hands. The 1993 Oslo Accords officially ended the Israeli Oc- 
cupation, but it has persisted nonetheless and is arguably the overrid- 
ing, if at times implicit, concern of much Palestinian cinema to date. 
The Israeli establishment of checkpoints throughout the OPTs, for 
example, is the central subject of Ford Transit (Hany Abu-Assad, 
2002), Roadblocks (Hanna Elias, 2002), Crossing Kalandia (Sobhi 
al-Zobaidi, 2002), and Checkpoints (Yoav Shamir, 2003), and is part 
of the post-2000 geographic fragmentation of Palestinians in Rana’s 
Wedding (Abu-Assad, 2002), Divine Intervention (Elia Suleiman, 
2002), and Like Twenty Impossibles (Annemarie Jacir, 2003). 
The impact of Israel’s construction of the West Bank separation 


barrier/wall is the focus of Wall (Simone Bitton, 2004), Obstacle 
(Nida Sinnokrot, 2003), The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands (An- 
drew Courtney/Emily Perry. 2004), Last Supper: Abu Dis (Issa Freij, 
2005), The Iron Wall (Mohammed Alatar, 2006), The Color of Olives 
(Carolina Rivas, 2006), and segments of Route 181 (Michel Khleifi/ 
Eyal Sivan, 2004) and Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land 
(Bathsheba Ratzkoff/Sut Jhally, 2004). The Israeli occupation of East 
Jerusalem is the subject of Ticket to Jerusalem (Rashid Masharawi, 
2002), Jerusalem Day 2002 (International Solidarity Movement, 
2002), and Looking Awry / Hawal (al-Zobaidi, 2005). The Israeli 
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is fictionalized in Disengagement 
(Gitai, 2007). The Occupation’s effects on Palestinian-Israeli gay 
and lesbian love relationships is analyzed in the Israeli diasporic 
documentary. Zero Degrees of Separation (Elle Flanders, 2005). 

ISRAFEST. This Jewish- American film festival was founded in 1982 
in Los Angeles and began holding annual screenings there and in 
New York City in 1985. Since then, Miami has also become a host 
city. Israfest’s purpose is to package and showcase the range of Is- 
raeli cinema to North American audiences. 

- i - 

JACIR, ANNEMARIE (1974- ). Jacir is a Palestinian poet, film- 
maker, and curator born in Bethlehem, who began her film career in 
1994 in New York City as an editor, producer, writer, and cinema- 
tographer. She directed a number of experimental shorts, including 
A Post-Oslo History (1998), about restrictions on Palestinian move- 
ment following the Oslo Accords; The Satellite Shooters (2001), a 
satirical Western based upon the story of a young Palestinian boy in 
Texas; and Like Twenty Impossibles (2003), a mock-verite account of 
a Palestinian film crew navigating military checkpoints in the West 
Bank. Her first feature film. Salt of This Sea (2008), follows a work- 
ing-class Palestinian-American refugee on her return home. Jacir is 
also the chief curator and founder of the Dreams of a Nation project, 


dedicated to the archiving and promotion of Palestinian cinema. See 

JADALLAH, SULAFA (19??-2002). A graduate of the Higher Cin- 
ema School in Cairo, Jadallah is the first female cinematographer in 
the Arab world. Jadallah’ s contributions to Palestinian cinema are 
intricately tied to the birth and influence of the Palestine Liberation 
Organization (PLO) among the Palestinian refugee community in 
Jordan during the 1960s and 1970s. Along with Mustafa Abu ‘Ali, 
Salah Abu Hanood, and Hani Jawahariya, Jadallah worked as a pho- 
tographer for the PLO’s Photography Division in Jordan, the objec- 
tive of which was to document and disseminate images and stories of 
the Palestinian revolution. These early photographs were the first that 
Palestinian refugees had of themselves and their exilic predicament, 
and came to serve as graphic catalysts for Palestinian nationalism. 
Jadallah initially photographed the activities of martyrs and fedayeen, 
but the Dignity Battle of March 1968, so named after Palestinian 
refugees in the village of Karameh— “dignity” in Arabic — success- 
fully thwarted an Israeli attack against the headquarters and leaders 
of Fateh, made “Palestinian Revolution” an international headline, 
evoking worldwide demand for images of the Palestinian-Israeli 
conflict and propelling Jadallah onto the frontline of struggle along- 
side the fedayeen. 

At this time, Jadallah became active as a cinematographer for 
the Palestine Films Unit that formed out of the Photography Divi- 
sion with the production of a first film. No to the Peaceful Solution 
(1969), a response to the 1969 Rogers Plan proposed by United 
States Secretary of State William P. Rogers, according to which Is- 
rael would withdraw from territories occupied in 1967. Rogers’ Plan 
was rejected by Israel. During the brutal events of Black September, 
Jadallah sustained a massive head injury that forced her to remain 
in Jordan, while Abu Ali and others relocated to south Lebanon. In 
2005, Jadallah received the Palestine Film Award for her pioneering 
role as an Arab woman cinematographer, as well as for her influ- 
ential work in documenting and disseminating the formative period 
of the Palestinian liberation movement. From that moment, the Pal- 
estine Film Award was renamed the Sulafa Jadallah Award by its 
sponsoring organization, Shashat, a nongovernmental organization 


headquartered in Ramallah and the organizer of the Women’s Film 
Festival in Palestine. Other well-known recipients of the Sulafa 
Jadallah award include Palestinian filmmaker Nada El-Yassir and the 
Indian director Deepa Mehta. See also PALESTINIAN REVOLU- 

JAHIN, SALAH (1930-1986). Cairo-born vernacular poet, cartoonist, 
lyricist, journalist, and actor, Salah Jahin wrote the screenplay for 
a number of Egyptian classics including Watch Out for Zuzu (El- 
Imam, 1972), Amira, My Love (Hassan El-Imam, 1974), and Shafika 
and Metwally (Ali Badrakhan, 1978), all starring Souad Hosni, 
his close friend; as well as The Return of the Prodigal Son (Youssef 
Chahine, 1976). In collaboration with composer, Sayed Mikkawy, 
Jahin wrote an operetta, The Big Night , depicting the moulid festivi- 
ties (a celebration of a saint’s anniversary) in the popular quarters 
of Cairo. With puppets made by Nagy Shaker and directed by Salah 
El-Sakka, it was the first show to run in the Puppet Theatre opened 
by Abdel Gamal Nasser in 1959. (The show continues to run today 
and is frequently aired on state television.) Jahin was considered 
the semiofficial poet of Egypt’s July 1952 revolution, having writ- 
ten many of the patriotic songs associated with it and performed by 
Abdel Halim Hafez. He published a series of satirical caricatures in 
daily newspapers and worked as the editor-in-chief of the magazine 
Sabah El-Kheir. He also wrote several episodes for the Ramadan 
fawazeer series (which featured an audiovisual riddle for each day 
of the holy month and aired on state television shortly after sun- 
set)— performed most notably by actress Nelly. 

JALILI, ABDOLFAZL (1957- ). Bom in Saveli in central Iran, Jalili 
directed three short films in the 1970s prior to the Iranian Revolu- 
tion of 1979. Working for Iranian Television, he then made several 
short pieces on the Iran-Iraq War. Following Milad ( 1 983), about a 
young man’s politicization during the Revolution, his second feature, 
The Spring (1984), was set during the war and celebrates Iranian 
successes. Already, these short films revealed Jalili’ s central interest 
in the plight of young boys, which has continued to mark his career, 
first in Scabies, a searing indictment of a juvenile detention facil- 
ity riddled by abuse and disease and offering little opportunity for 


inmates to escape from lives of crime and poverty. With Dance of 
Dust (1992), Jalili abandoned traditional narrative to create an almost 
wordless visual poem about a young brickmaker who falls in love. 
Despite, or perhaps because of, this approach, the film was banned 
until 1998. 

Det Means Girl (1994) and A True Story (1995) continued Jalili’s 
experimental aesthetic, although they contain more narrative, both 
dealing with the attempt to obtain needed medical treatment. In Del- 
baran (2000), however, dialogue and story are again mostly absent, 
as Jalili follows a refugee from Afghanistan surviving at a truck- 
stop on the Iranian side of the border. The First Letter (2003), about a 
relationship between a Muslim boy and a Jewish girl, which suffered 
from censorship in Iran, and Hafez (2007), concerning a boy who, 
in giving Qur’anic instruction, falls in love with the unseen girl he 
is teaching, mark Jalili’s return to melodramatic and perhaps more 
commercial narrative forms. 

JALLA! JALLA! (2000). A semi-autobiographical film about a Leba- 
nese family living in Sweden, Jalla! Jalla! became Josef Fares’ 
breakthrough film starring his brother. Fares Fares. This comedic 
tale of Lebanese traditionalism meeting Swedish homogeneity joins 
a growing body of films by immigrant filmmakers grappling with 
the experience of cultural differences. Rather than critiquing the 
xenophobia sometimes apparent in Europe’s identity politics, this 
lighthearted story of lovers from different walks of life employs a 
series of cultural cliches to bolster a vision of universal humanism. 
The formula enthralled Swedish audiences and earned Jalla! Jalla! 
Sweden’s entry for the Academy Awards in 2001. Fares followed 
with another comedy, Kopps (2003), before taking on more traumatic 
material in Zozo (2005), about a 10-year-old boy who must make his 
way to Sweden alone after his family has been killed in the Lebanese 
Civil War. 

JAMES’ JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM (2003). Ra’anan Alexandro- 
wicz’s biting epic tale charts the Christian pilgrimage of a rural Zulu 
to Jerusalem, on the road to which he is apprehended and forced into 
migrant labor. Through a comedy of errors, the bright and conge- 
nial James turns his religious fervor into entrepreneurial ambition, 


coming nearly to master Israeli capitalism until racial prejudice 
forces him back to his native South Africa without his ever having 
completed his pilgrimage. Although Alexandrowicz’s first narrative 
feature does not depict explicitly the conflict in Palestine-Israel, its 
casting of a Palestinian actor, Salim Dau ( Avanti Popolo ; The Flying 
Camel [Rami Na’aman, 1994]), as a migrant labor recruitment agent 
of Mizrahi descent offers sardonic commentary on the contradic- 
tory social conditions that the conflict presents for the marginalized 
peoples living in the region. 

international film festival began in 1983 under the auspices of the Je- 
rusalem Cinematheque, an Israeli screening venue opened in 1974 in 
conjunction with the Israel Film Archive. The Archive stores copies 
of every film and video funded at least in part by Israel along with, in 
its Jewish Film and Axelrod Pre-State Collections, thousands of films 
depicting Ashkenazi shtetl and community life up to and including the 
Holocaust, films concerning the Holocaust, Nazi propaganda films, 
Yiddish films, and newsreels and documentaries shot in Palestine- 
Israel between 1895 and 1958. In addition to programming interna- 
tional fare, the Jerusalem International Film Festival accepts some 
Israeli and a few Palestinian films annually. 

JORDAN. Sharing borders with Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and 
Palestine-Israel in the Levant region of West Asia, the Arab nation 
of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a young country with deeply 
interconnected histories with other states and territories. Jordan and 
Palestine-Israel encompass the area known historically as Palestine. 
Jordan’s majority religion is Sunni Muslim, with a sizable percentage 
of the population Palestinian, and with a considerable number of ref- 
ugees from Iraq. After World War I, until 1948, the former Ottoman 
territory was under British control as part of the League of Nations 
Mandate of Palestine (although it ostensibly became an independent 
state in the 1920s). Under British sponsorship, a monarchy was estab- 
lished under Said bin Abdullah Hussein in what was then called the 
Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan. The name was changed in 1948 
when Jordan joined the Arab League. During the Six-Day War of 
1967, Israel took control of the Jordanian-controlled West Bank (of 
the Jordan River), and many Palestinians fled as refugees to Jordan. 

JORDAN • 221 

After a victory by refugee Palestinian guerrillas/freedom fighters in 
the 1968 Battle of Karameh, King Hussein bin Talal ordered his army 
to attack Palestinian political parties headquartered in Jordan. Known 
as Black September, the attack resulted in an indeterminate number 
of Palestinian deaths, likely more than 5,000, as well as the expulsion 
of the Palestine Liberation Organization and thousands of Palestin- 
ians to Lebanon. These events are represented in some films of the 
Palestinian Revolution Cinema and recounted in the contemporary 
documentary Leila Klialed: Hijacker (Lina Makboul, 2006). 

The Hashemite dynasty has its roots in Saudi Arabia and reported 
descent from the Prophet Mohammed. The present king of Jordan 
is Abdullah II, son of the late King Hussein. Both Abdullah and his 
wife, Queen Rania, have been vocal supporters of the development 
of the Jordanian film industry. Indeed, while Jordan’s film scene may 
initially seem rather barren, with urban multiplexes playing familiar 
Hollywood fare and the popular Egyptian cinema that continues 
to pervade the Arab mediascape. A closer examination, however, 
reveals a budding domestic audiovisual industry with roots in a local 
and transnational, pan-Arab cultural milieu, and myriad connec- 
tions that branch across other parts of the world. Jordanian cultural 
productions, including television soaps and Ramadan programs, have 
been successful in the Arab world. 

Some of the most memorable cinematic uses of Jordan’s iconic 
scenery by international filmmakers are the desert landscapes in 
Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962) and the action sequences 
in the ancient city of Petra in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 
(Steven Spielberg, 1989). More recently, the Iraq War-themed 
films Redacted (Brian De Palma, 2007), Battle for Haditha (Nick 
Broomfield, 2007), and The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) 
have been shot in Jordan. Providing critical assistance in defining 
the Jordanian film and media world is the Royal Film Commission 
(RFC), established in July 2003, Jordan’s official organization for 
film, television, and multimedia production. One major goal of the 
RFC is to promote Jordan as a desirable location for domestic and 
international film projects. 

Jordan’s own first film was Struggle in Jarash (Wassif Sheik 
Yassin, 1957). Other notable features have included 1 99 1 ’s Oriental 
Story (Najdat Anzour, 1991), co-scripted by Adnan Madanat, who 
is also Jordan’s leading film critic, a film librarian, and a facilitator 


of the weekly cinema club at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Founda- 
tion in Amman— an organization established in 1989 dedicated to 
its stated mission of “disseminating cinematic culture.” The current 
film scene in Jordan’s capital and largest city, Amman, is populated 
by local emerging filmmakers who have formed innovative strate- 
gies of collective, independent, and individual creative opportunity. 
Digital filmmaking has been key. Of the many projects by the lat- 
est generation of Jordanian filmmakers, the award-winning digital 
feature. Captain Abu Raed (2007), was directed by American Film 
Institute graduate, Amin Matalqa, and produced by Nadine Toukan. 
Another high-profile digital production, the feature-length documen- 
tary, Retake/Recycled (2008), set in Zarqa and directed by Mahmoud 
al-Massad, a Jordanian currently living in the Netherlands, has also 
received international attention. 

The nonprofit Amman Filmmakers Cooperative (formed in 2003) 
and the Jordan Short Film Festival (launched in 2005), both founded 
by United States-trained Jordanian filmmaker and Information Tech- 
nology media consultant Hazim Bitar, provide venues for training 
and exhibition of Jordanian-produced work. In 2008, Jordan’s newly 
inaugurated Red Sea Institute for the Cinematic Arts accepted its first 
class of students from throughout the Middle East into its Masters 
of Fine Arts program. 

JOREIGE, LAMIA (1972- ). Born in Beirut, Joreige studied in France 
and at the Rhode Island School of Design. After returning to Leba- 
non, she emerged as a core member of Beirut’s avant-garde. Joreige 
utilizes video to interrogate Lebanon’s violent history and foreground 
individual stories. Her Objects of War series (2000-2006) presents a 
series of testimonials prompted by mundane personal objects. Here 
and Perhaps Elsewhere (2003) probes the social memory of kid- 
nappings during the Lebanese Civil War, confronting the “official 
amnesia” that has characterized the postwar period. 

- K - 

KADOSH (1999). Amos Gitai’s blunt expose of patriarchy within 
orthodox Judaism contains one of the most shocking rape scenes 


in cinema history. Set in the insular Mea Shearim, an ultraorthodox 
(, haredi ) community located in a former Palestinian section of north- 
ern Jerusalem, Kadosh (“holy” in Hebrew) portrays the coming-to- 
consciousness of a young haredi woman married by arrangement to 
a man thrice her age who is sexually violent and indifferent to her 
needs. After sustaining a series of beatings and rapes, Rivka eventu- 
ally escapes to an uncertain future in secular Tel Aviv. Kadosh is shot 
in muted tones with shadowy lighting that projects a melancholy pes- 
simism onto Mea Shearim’ s mostly interior domestic scenes, which 
a stark, often motionless camera helps associate with the ostensibly 
liberating Tel Aviv milieu. See also GENDER AND SEXUALITY; 

KAMAL, HUSSEIN (1934-2003). One of Egypt’s best-known and 
most prolific filmmakers, Kamal studied cinema in Paris at the In- 
stutut des hautes etudes cinematographiques, graduating in 1956. 
He worked in television, then made a number of short films before 
directing his first feature in 1965. His first two films were artistically 
rather than commercially oriented. The Impossible (1966) was one of 
the first Egyptian films funded by the public sector; it tells the story 
of a man who struggles to overcome the crippling influence of his 
father. In Kamal’s second feature. The Postman (1968), based on a 
story by Yehia Haqqi, a young girl is killed by her father when he 
discovers that she has had sex out of wedlock. With My Father Is Up 
the Tree (1969), Kamal played out his abilities in a commercial film 
featuring Abdel Halim Hafiz and Nadia Lotfy. The film became a 
huge success, running for more than 50 weeks in cinemas, not only 
because of Hafez’s starring role, but also, supposedly, because it 
included “one hundred kisses.” 

Kamal’s films are hard to group into any single generic category or 
thematic approach; some were artistic and intellectual, controversial 
and banned, while others were huge commercial successes. Underlin- 
ing all of these works, however, is a sense that Kamal rarely settled 
to resolve or simplify the complexity of his characters’ motivations. 
Kamal insisted that his films were commercial but not conventional. 
Following My Father Is Up the Tree , he made Something Frighten- 
ing (1969), a film that was challenged by censors for its depiction 
of a ruthless gang who hold their village in terror, kidnap the inde- 

224 • KARAGOZ 

pendent and willful Fuada (Shadia), and force her to marry the gang 
leader, Atriss (Mahmoud Morsi). The villagers eventually revolt, 
and Atriss is killed in a fire. After viewing the film himself, Gamal 
Abdel Nasser declared that if it really was an allegory of his gov- 
ernment (with him as the gang leader), then the villagers deserved 
to burn; he allowed the film to screen. In Adrift on the Nile (1971), 
Kamal’s critique of the failures of Nasser’s regime is more explicit. 
The Empire of M’s (1972), based on a screenplay by Ihsan Abd al- 
Quddus, stars an aging Faten Hamama as a single mother, while 
in We Are the Bus People (1979), two young men (Adel Imam and 
Abdel Moniem Madbuly) are taken to a police station following an 
argument on a bus. They are detained mistakenly and tortured as 
political prisoners. 


KARIM, MOHAMMAD (1896-1972). Born in Cairo, Karim was 
originally an actor and appeared in some of the earliest films shot in 
Egypt— by an Italian company. He then went to Europe, appearing 
in small parts in a couple of Italian films and studying at the UFA 
studios in Berlin. He returned to Egypt, becoming one of its first 
directors with Zeinab (1930), the country’s first full-length feature, 
made for Yussuf Wahbi, who had established a modest film stu- 
dio. Based on perhaps Egypt’s first novel — by Muhammad Husain 
Hiakal— it is a melodrama of doomed love, critical of the practice 
of arranged marriages. Karim then collaborated with Wahbi on one 
of the earliest sound films from the Middle East, Sons of Aristo- 
crats (1932), followed by the first Egyptian musical. The White 
Rose (1934). The White Rose was also the first Egyptian film to be 
widely distributed across the Arab world, since it featured the great 
composer and singer Mohamed Abdel Wahab, who plays a poor 
singer in love with a rich girl, with the titular rose symbolizing the 
purity of his unspoken love. Karim went on to direct Abdel Wahab 
in Tears of Love (1936), Long Live Love (1938) — playing opposite 
Layla Murad in her first film role — and four further films, all with 
similar themes. He was head of the Cairo Higher Film Institute from 
1957 until 1967. 

KARNAK • 225 

KARIMI, NIKI (1971- ). Karimi is an award-winning Iranian ac- 
tress, film director, and translator. Dariush Mehrjui’s Sara, based 
on Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, gave Karimi her first nationally 
and internationally acclaimed role, an emotionally charged rendering 
of the title character, Sara, a woman on the verge of discovering the 
truth about her exploitative and loveless marriage. She is best known, 
however, for her work with Iranian director Tahmineh Milani ( Two 
Women , The Hidden Half, and The Fifth Reaction), in which Karimi 
portrays, with a complex vulnerability, the challenges facing modern 
Iranian women caught on the cusp of religious and secular identities. 
Karimi, fluent in Persian, French, and English, translated Marlon 
Brando’s biography. Songs My Mother Taught Me, into Farsi and 
made her directorial debut in 2001 with To Have or Not to Have, 
a documentary about infertility produced by Abbas Kiarostami. 
Karimi’ s feature film directorial debut. One Night (2005), was 
nominated in the “Un Certain Regard” category at the Cannes Film 
Festival. See also GENDER AND SEXUALITY. 

from director Suat Yalaz’s comic book series of the same title, 
Karaoglan features the titular Uighur from the Altai mountain range 
in Turkey, who fights there for Genghis Khan before migrating to 
Anatolia, where he subsequently fights for the Seljuks against Byz- 
antine forces. The film is one of many Ye§il?am action-adventure 
films to depict Central Asian Turkic, Seljuk, Ottoman, and Muslim 
warriors as heroes. Rife with nudity and patronizing constructions of 
non-Turks and non-Muslims as enthralled with their Turkish military 
leaders, this genre is considered supportive of Islamic-Turkish na- 

KARNAK (1975). Released five years after the death of Gamal Abdel 
Nasser, Karnak, directed by Ali Badrakhan, depicted the abusive 
side of the Free Officers regime, and was typical of a series of Egyp- 
tian films that focused on the corruption and atrocities carried out by 
individuals and various state apparatuses during Nasser’s presidency. 
Karnak tells the story of a group of student activists, Hilmi (Moham- 
mad Sobhi), Ibrahim (Nur El-Sherif), and Zeinab (Souad Hosni), 


who frequently meet in the Kamak coffee shop. Openly expressing 
their political views, they are arrested by state security forces. The 
film includes gruesome scenes of torture and rape carried out by 
order of a high-ranking official (Kamal El-Shenawy). Kamak set a 
precedent for criticism of institutionalized state brutality, as Anwar 
Sadat sought to distance his presidency both culturally and politi- 
cally from the previous regime. 

KECHICHE, ABDELLATIF (1960- ). Kechiche was born in Tunis 
but raised by immigrant parents in a housing project in Nice, after 
which he studied acting at the Conservatoire d’ Antibes and became 
a stage and film actor, most notably, perhaps, in Bezness (Nouri 
Bouzid, 1992). Kechiche has directed three features, all of which 
treat issues related to immigrant experience in France, in the tradi- 
tion of beur cinema, and by subverting the conventions of French 
farce. Voltaire’s Fault (2000) details the tenuous, chaotic existence 
of illegal immigrants seeking a stable life in France. Games of Love 
and Chance (2003) is set in a state school in a poor suburb ( banlieue ) 
of Paris, where teens preparing a Marivaux play become painfully 
aware of the contradictions associated with the roles in which they 
are cast and the very act of performing them. The Secret of the Grain 
(2007) has been honored at many film festivals and is perhaps Ke- 
chiche’s most commercially successful and widely distributed film 
to date. It narrates the story of a divorced French-Tunisian shipyard 
worker, Slimane, whose attempt to open a fish couscous restaurant in 
an abandoned fishing boat after he is forced into early retirement is 
realized only posthumously, through the ingenuity of the women in 
his life. The film joins a substantial number of films, many from the 
Middle East, which investigate the everyday and celebrate tradition 
through meal-time scenes. 

KEEP-ON CLASS (1975). Adapted from a memoir, this film by Turk- 
ish director Ertem Egilmez focuses humorously on the exploits of 
several students at an all-male private high school. Keep-on Class 
reproduces the 1970s Ye§il<;am family comedy by positioning the 
school principal as a father figure and the school’s female caretaker 
as a mother figure. Successful upon its release, the film still garners 


high ratings when broadcast on Turkish television, and has come 
arguably to be known as the best of the Ycsilcam comedies. It has 
spawned several sequels and a few post-Ye§il<;ani remakes of the 
series. The film introduced the character, §aban (Kemal Sunal), who 
later became the protagonist of the §aban subgenre, in which eventu- 
ally 17 films were made. 


KENg, FARUK (1910-2000). An early Ye§il<;am director, Ken§ was 
born in Istanbul and participated in the filming of Soviet filmmaker 
Esfir Shub’s (aka Esther Schub) documentary on Turkish reforms, 
Strides of Progress in the Turkish Revolution (1937). He later gradu- 
ated from the Bavarian School for Photography. Upon his return to 
Turkey, Ken£ started directing in his own right with the tearjerker 
Piece of Stone (1939). However, the high cost of filmmaking, espe- 
cially during World War II, and the veritable monopoly of Muhsin 
Ertugrul and Ihsan Ipek^i over industrial film production prompted 
his “discovery” of an alternate method of sound postsynchronization. 
His 1943 film. Troubled Spring , was shot silently and later dubbed at 
a sound studio. Ken£’s innovation opened the door to standardizing 
postsynchronization practices in Ycsilcam through the 1980s. Dur- 
ing his career, which ended in 1964, he made the swashbuckler film 
flakircah Mehmet Efe (1950), the nationalist drama Song of Free- 
dom (1951), and the melodrama The Immortal Love (1959). 

KHACHIKIAN, SAMUEL (1923-2001). Born in Tabriz, Iran, of 
Armenian ancestry, Khachikian directed his first crime thriller, The 
Hazard Crossroad, in 1954, and continued to work in that genre in 
the 1960s, often using black-and-white stock to create chiaroscuro 
effects common in similar Western films. A prolific filmmaker, 
also working as a producer and scriptwriter, Khachikian directed 40 
films and has been referred to as the Iranian Hitchcock. Despite less 
popular success during the 1970s, he continued working after the 
Iranian Revolution of 1979. His Explosion (1979) commemorates 
the Shah’s departure, while Eagles (1984) is a combat film about the 
Iran-Iraq War. 


KHALED/CHEB KHALED (1960- ). Khaled is one of the world’s 
most popular performers of rat, a modernized, hybrid Arabic folk 
music. His music has been utilized on the soundtracks of numerous 
international films, and he has made several screen appearances in 
documentaries and features. Known for his distinctive deep voice, 
as well as talents as a multi-instrumentalist and composer (Cheb), 
Khaled Hadj Brahim was born in a suburb of Oran, Algeria, the 
birthplace of rat. 

During the 1980s, Khaled’s reputation expanded from Algeria 
to France and beyond, as he began to play festivals and European 
tours and released his first album in France. In Algeria, the rise 
of Islamism resulted in the targeting of rat music and musicians 
whose song lyrics celebrated wine and women. By the early 1990s 
Khaled was living in exile in France and, known as the “King of 
Rai ,” releasing singles and successful albums and videos, includ- 
ing the first Arabic chart-topper in France. His songs were heard on 
soundtracks of 1990s films directed by Europeans Nanni Moretti, 
Pascal Ferran, Fuc Besson, and Alain Corneau (and, later, American 
Jonathan Demme); and he collaborated as a composer with filmmak- 
ers Jacques Doillon and Bertrand Blier, winning a 1994 Cesar award 
for best film soundtrack. Khaled’s scoring work has continued into 
the 21st century with films directed by Nassim Amaouche and an 
acclaimed composition for Days of Glory (2006), directed by bear 
filmmaker Rachid Bouchareb. 

Khaled’s appeal is further demonstrated by his onscreen cha- 
risma. In 1997, he starred in Algerian bear filmmaker Mahmoud 
Zemmouri’s banlieue musical comedy, 100% Arabica, paired with 
fellow rai superstar Cheb Mami. Two years later, Khaled appeared in 
a legendary concert at Bercy amphitheater with fellow rai performers 
Rachid Taha and Faudel, the “little prince,” who has also become a 
high profile television and film actor. This concert, “Un deux trois 
soleil,” yielded a live album, as well as a concert film. 

KHAN, MOHAMED (1942- ). A filmmaker closely associated with 
the New Realists of the 1980s, Khan studied cinema in London 
before returning to Cairo to make his first feature, Sun Stroke, in 
1978, based on Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up and starring 
Nur El-Sherif. An ongoing collaboration ensued with El-Sherif, 


based on the actor’s ability to finance as well as act in films — an 
arrangement that would also make producers of Naglaa Fathy and 
Ahmad Zaki and in turn contribute to these performers’ increasing 
star status. Khan worked with actors Mahmoud Yasin and Yousra in 
Vengeance (1982), Nabila Ebied in Desire (1980), Souad Hosni in 
A Dinner Date (1981), and Adel Imam in The Street Player (1983). 
His passion for cinema and for Egypt is manifest in his carefully 
crafted scripts and close attention to character development. His 
association with New Realist directors such as Atef El-Tayeb and 
Khairy Beshara derives from their mutual concern with everyday 
struggles and the forces of power and corruption that shape the lives 
of ordinary people. 

Impassioned by the study of international cinemas, Khan’s con- 
tribution to Egyptian cinema is distinguished by its emphasis on 
Egyptians and their specific concerns and relationships. Wife of an 
Important Man (1987), starring Mervat Amin and Ahmed Zaki, and 
set during the period of corruption and ongoing paranoia wrought by 
the Anwar Sadat regime, centers on a ruthless police officer who 
is sacked for randomly arresting innocent people. The man is so 
deluded by self-importance that he maintains the pretence before his 
wife that he is still employed. Dreams of Hind and Camelia (1988) 
portrays a friendship between two domestic servants who experience 
rape, abuse, and poverty. This attention to the conditions of women 
during the 1980s shifts to those of a younger generation in Down- 
town Girls (2004, also scripted by Khan), featuring Hend Sabri and 
Menna Shalaby as two working-class women who commute via the 
metro line running from Helwan to central Cairo, where one works 
in a lingerie shop and the other as a hairdresser. 

Khan’s subsequent Supermarket (1990) revolves around a single 
mother (Naglaa Fathy) who lives with her elderly father and a young 
pianist (Mamdouh Abdel Alim), the latter of whom is stuck in a 
loveless marriage and must perform for drunk and disinterested au- 
diences. These two key characters have few aspirations in a world 
dominated by money and power. Omar’s Journey (1986), starring 
Farouk El-Fishawy, Mamdouh Abdel Alim, and Madiha Kamel, 
depicts a nihilistic road trip that brings together three very differ- 
ent characters. In line with the New Realist association with non- 
mainstream, pseudoindependent filmmaking styles, Khan made 


Klifty / Thief in 2004, starring Bassem Samra, which again focuses 
upon personal relationships and a hero who maintains his humanity 
in a dog-eat-dog world. The film retains the documentary appearance 
of Khan’s previous films through use of a hand-held digital camera 
and a setting in the streets of Cairo. 

KHATAMI, MOHAMMAD (1943- ). Khatami, a highly learned and 
cultured cleric, was appointed Iran’s minister for culture and Islamic 
guidance in 1982, a position from which he oversaw the gradual 
revision and liberalization of laws regulating the postrevolutionary 
cinema. In 1984, he declared that “Cinema is not the mosque,” thus 
establishing it as potentially something other— and more — than a 
vehicle of official ideology. He remained at the Ministry of Culture 
and Islamic Guidance (MCIG) for a decade but resigned under pres- 
sure from conservatives when he received insufficient support from 
President Hashemi Rafsanjani. After several years in charge of the 
National Library, Khatami was nominated to contest the 1997 presi- 
dential election. To the surprise of many within the Iranian establish- 
ment, he won on a landslide— with a broadly reformist platform that 
emphasized Islamic democracy and the values of a civil society — and 
with the country’s filmmakers as some of his most eager supporters. 

Khatami and Ayatollah Mohajerani, the new head of the MCIG, 
quickly allowed cinema more latitude to take up controversial is- 
sues and promptly granted permits to many previously banned 
films — among them Snowman (David Mowlapur, 1994/1997) (which 
included scenes of cross-dressing) and Lady (Dariush Mehrjui, 
1992/1999). Khatami’s attempts at wider reform in Iranian society 
were frequently thwarted, however, by elements in the legislature 
and judiciary under the aegis of Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, 
while his dialogue with the West was stymied by the events of 1 1 
September 2001 and American responses to them, especially the 
inclusion of Iran in President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil.” In 
2005, Khatami was succeeded as president by populist conservative 
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In 2009, he supported popular opposition 
to the reappointment of Ahmadinejad, led by presidential candidate 
Mir-Hossein Mousavi, following elections perceived by many as 


KHEMIR, NACER (1948- ). A writer, poet, painter, storyteller, 
sculptor, and calligrapher born in Korba, Tunisia, Khemir is also a 
filmmaker with an idiosyncratic style derived not from a film school 
background but from his personal beliefs and concern to explore 
the richness of oral narrative tradition, Islamic aesthetics such as 
miniature painting, and, especially, Sufism. In 1975, Khemir began 
publishing fairy tales-legends based on his mother’s tales, including 
The Ogress (1977), and directed several films in the same vein: The 
Story of the Land of God (1976); The Ogress (1977), an animation 
based on his children’s book, referenced humorously in Inch’allah 
Dimanche (Yamina Benguigui, 2001); Wanderers in the Desert (aka 
The Drifters) (1984); The Dove’s Lost Necklace (1990); Looking for 
1001 Nights (1991), a television documentary; and Bab’ Aziz ( The 
Prince Who Contemplated His Soul) (2005). His feature Wanderers 
in the Desert was screened widely at international film festivals and 
begins his Desert Trilogy, which also comprises The Dove’s Lost 
Necklace and Bab ’Az.iz. 

KHLEIFI, MICHEL (1950- ). Born in Nazareth to a Christian-Pales- 
tinian family, Khleifi is the progenitor of contemporary Palestinian 
cinema, and, with more than a dozen films under his direction, he 
has been one of the most prolific, longstanding, and influential of 
its directors. He is the brother of film producer, professor, and critic 
George Khleifi. 

As an Arab unable to register at Israeli educational institutions, 
Khleifi went to Belgium in 1970, where he earned a degree in Radio, 
Television and Theater Direction from the Institut national superieur 
des arts du spectacle et techniques de diffusion in 1976, and began 
his career as a writer, director, and producer of made-for-television 
documentaries on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict for Radio et Te- 
levision Beiges Francophones in the late 1970s. 

Khleifi’s first full-length documentary, Fertile Memory (1980), 
presents a dual portrait of a Palestinian novelist and a working-class 
woman from Nazareth, on the theme of womanhood under occupa- 
tion. His second documentary, Ma’loul Celebrates Its Destruction 
(1985), follows a group of Palestinians on the only day of the year on 
which they are allowed to visit their old Galilean village, which falls 
on the Al-Nakba anniversary. The film reveals the villagers’ painful 


memories and determination to cling to their ancestral land. Ma ’loul 
hints at themes that recur in Khleifi’s feature films, including his first 
feature. Wedding in Galilee (1987), for which he would gain wide- 
spread recognition: the pulls between a repressed past and immanent 
future struggles, emotional issues of temporality, the physicality of 
tradition and memory, along with images and odes to traditional 
landscapes of olive groves and green hills. 

Khleifi’s subsequent films likewise explore tensions between tra- 
dition and change, differing forms of power and domination (whether 
military, patriarchal, national, or religious), and the pastoral impor- 
tance of territory: Canticle of the Stones (1990), a docudrama of the 
First Intifada and the story of middle-aged lovers meeting after 20 
years of separation; A Tale of the Three Lost Jewels (1994), a fan- 
tasy tale and love story reputed to be the first feature shot on location 
and completed in Israeli-occupied Gaza; and Forbidden Marriages 
in the Holy Land (1995), a documentary that focuses on eight mixed 
marriages between partners of different religions and ethnicities. An- 
other first is Khleifi’s ambitious three-part documentary. Route 181: 
Fragments of a Journey in Palestine-Israel (2004), co-directed 
with Eyal Sivan, following the partition route of United Nations 
Resolution 181, passed in November 1947 but never implemented. 

Some of Khleifi’s other work is distant from Palestinian issues. He 
directed L’Ordre du jour (1992), a parody of modern bureaucratic 
man based on the 1987 novel by Jean-Luc Outers, one of Belgium’s 
leading writers. He has also written screenplays, written and directed 
theatrical plays and made-for-television movies, and taught at film 
schools in Europe and the Middle East. See also WOMEN. 

KHLIFI, OMAR (aka OMARK KHELIFI) (1934- ). During the 
1960s, Khlifi, a self-taught filmmaker, shot a dozen short and 
medium-length films in 16mm before directing the first Tunisian 
postindependence feature. The Dawn (1966). His subsequent The 
Rebel (1968) is the first of a trilogy on resistance themes completed 
by The Fellagas (1970) and Screams (1972). The latter reenacts 
a story told by a traveler about two girls, one of whom is married 
against her will, while the other is raped by a stranger, who she then 
kills, only to be denounced by her village elders and condemned to 
death for supposedly having provoked the dishonor. Outraged, the 


village women form a procession during her burial, thus breaking Is- 
lamic tradition and raising the ire of the men. In 1986, Khlifi directed 
The Challenge, the third film in a documentary trilogy on exile, 
which follows four people as they return after many years to their 
home towns, triggering their repressed memories of the anticolonial 
struggle. For its disproportionate focus on French and non-Muslim 
suffering and death during that period at the hands of Islamist re- 
sistance fighters, the film has been criticized as revisionist and was 
banned in Algeria. Khlifi was an active member of the Federation 
Tunisienne des cineastes amateurs, and, in 1970, published a book 
on the origins of Tunisian cinema, C his toi re du cinema en Tunisie 

KHOMEINI, RUHOLLAH (1902-1989). Banished from Iran in 
1963, after he objected to land reform legislation that was part of 
the Shah’s White Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, based first in the 
Shi ‘i holy city of Najaf in Iraq, and later in Paris, assumed leadership 
of anti-Shah activities that ultimately led to the fall of the Pahlavi 
regime and Khomeini’s own return from exile. Because cassette 
tape recordings helped disseminate Khomeini’s words throughout 
Iran, the 1979 Iranian Revolution has been seen as a victory for 
small media over state -controlled television and radio. Khomeini, 
despite his distaste for prerevolutionary cinema— both domestic 
and imported— in Iran, did not object to all cinema. He was known 
to have approved of The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, 1969), and his 
speech at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery immediately upon his return 
to the country clarified that it was the old cinema, which he likened 
to prostitution, that he opposed and thought should be abandoned. 
Indeed, Khomeini’s approach to film was part of an overall desire to 
Islamicize media and culture, an aim reflected in the establishment 
during the early 1980s of an official cinema, dictated by regulations 
promulgated by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, that 
would bolster the new regime’s policies and ideology. 

KIAROSTAMI, ABBAS (1940- ). Contemporary Iran’s most fa- 
mous director internationally, Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, 
where he studied painting and graphic design at the Tehran Univer- 
sity School of Fine Arts. Although the post- 1979 Iranian government 


has often refused to screen Kiarostami’s films in his home country, 
Kiarostami is one of the relatively few Iranian directors who elected 
to stay in Iran at the time of 1979’s Iranian Revolution. Kiarostami 
was chiefly instrumental in setting up the film department at the In- 
stitute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young 
Adults, which birthed many Iranian New Wave movies, including 
Kiarostami’s own short films. The Bread and Alley (1970), Two So- 
lutions for One Problem (1975), and the first of his signature feature 
films, Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987), a simple fable about 
Ahmed, an eight-year-old boy who wants to return the notebook 
of a fellow student that gets misplaced in his school bag. Many of 
Kiarostami’s consistent leitmotifs surface in this film: his keen obser- 
vations on the intersections between the world of children and that 
of adults: his deployment of the camera to capture ceaseless flux and 
movement; the plumbing of the numinous and the spiritual through 
the phenomenal world, resulting in the hyper-realism of his land- 
scapes and enclosures; and the purification of individual perception 
through repetition and striving. 

Where Is the Friend’s House? along with And Life Goes On (1992) 
(aka Life and Nothing More) and Through the Olive Trees (1994) are 
often cited as Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy, alluding to the village 
of Koker in Northern Iran that provided the common setting to the 
three films, and which suffered a devastating earthquake in 1990. A 
notable feature of Kiarostami’s films, which did not surface in Where 
Is the Friend’s House?, emerges in the two later films of the trilogy: 
his increasing experimentation with aspects of documentary films 
inside feature films and vice-versa. Homework (1990), also from 
this period is an early example of a film that articulates Kiarostami’s 
increasing fascination with the relationship between films, truth, and 
lies. In it, he interviews a group of elementary school boys about 
their homework in a series of open and closed questions designed 
to elicit from them their compliance or noncompliance with school 
policy. The questions range from whether they do their homework on 
time, to asking for help from others in the family, to punishment and 
reward in relation to homework, to tangential questions as to what 
they prefer: doing homework or watching cartoons. Child after child 
claims to prefer the former. The possibility that what the documen- 
tary camera caught was a “lie” and not “truth” is borne out as the film 


progresses to show the boys acting out their frustrations and fighting 
with each other. 

Close-Up (1990), a record of the real-life trial of an imperson- 
ator of the famous Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Taste of 
Cherry (1997), and The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) won further in- 
ternational acclaim for Kiarostami and attest to his evolving interest 
in cinema’s link to truth and representation. In the latter, a Tehrani 
intellectual arrives at a remote Kurdish village apparently to record 
the scarification ceremony that will accompany the death of an old 
woman. This alienated figure is evidently a stand-in for Kiarostami’s 
own representation of rural and isolated figures for which he had 
been criticized, especially within Iran, for taking an orientalist view. 
Reminiscent of Taste of Cherry, in The Wind Will Carry Us, the film 
about death never gets made. Life overwhelms the director waiting 
to shoot the death scene. Indeed, signs of life abound in sound and 
movement even where there is nothing for the camera to capture 
other than darkness. The film continues the elaboration of favored 
motifs such as the zig-zag, and extends Kiarostami’s fondness for 
play with absence— many characters are never seen, for example. 

Kiarostami’s films in the 2000s have evolved both in style and 
themes. The cinematic image as pure figure, proof of its own exis- 
tence that Kiarostami perfected in his movies in the 1990s, makes 
way for a cinema that explores sound and movement, a kinesthetic 
experience that does for sound what the previous movies did for the 
image. Ten (2002) is shot almost completely inside a moving car as 
its driver, a young divorced mother holds conversations on 10 jour- 
neys with passengers, some of whom ride with her more than once; 
these passengers include her rebellious young son Amin, her sister, 
a prostitute, a pilgrim, and a jilted young lover. They comment on 
a variety of subjects such as identity, autonomy, sexuality, desire, 
faith. Ten is a minimalist film: five to six characters, a moving car, 
and two digital cameras that follow the characters’ faces and capture 
their conversations. The 10 conversation-episodes are introduced 
with countdown leaders, a technique used in modernist cinema to 
foreground the artifice of cinema. Yet these conversations and the 
moving car are the movie in Ten', there is no other movie when the 
leaders stop. The talking resolves nothing, and the agitation of the 


conversations reproduces the frenetic driving course followed by 
the car. 

Ten marks a decisive departure from organized script- writing to a 
series of films characterized by simple hand-held video cameras and 
more extemporaneous filming. ABC Africa (2001), a documentary 
film that Kiarostami made about programs assisting AIDS orphans 
in Uganda at the request of the United Nations International Fund for 
Agricultural Development, but which focuses equally on the joy of 
childhood, is a good example. Once again, fiction and documentary 
traditions and techniques are combined. For example, a sustained 
dark screen in the middle of the film with no image and no sound 
injects a fictive subjectivity into the documentary reportage. The 
term “poetic” is often used to describe Kiarostami’s nonfiction fea- 
tures and fiction-infused documentaries. Five (2003), a series of five 
long-shots of nature holds representational functions at bay, return- 
ing to the image as figure. 10 on Ten (2004), shot like Ten on video 
with a stationary camera mounted inside a moving car is a series 
of 10 lessons on movie-making Kiarostami delivers as he revisits 
the settings of his films. The Roads of Kiarostami (2006) is another 
poetic documentary on Kiarostami’s landscapes. His exploration of 
the cinematic experience continues in Shirin (2008), a full-length 
feature that consists wholly of close-ups of various women (includ- 
ing several well-known Iranian actresses and Juliette Binoche) who 
are apparently watching a film of the traditional Persian love story of 
Shirin and Khosrow. Shirin is a compelling exploration of the rela- 
tionship between image, sound, and (female) spectatorship. In 2009, 
Kiarostami directed a new film, Certified Copy , in Italy, the first of 
his features to be shot outside Iran. 

Kiarostami is also an accomplished poet and photographer. A col- 
lection of his gnomic, haiku-like poems, Hamrah Ba Bad (1999), 
was published as a bilingual edition entitled Walking with the Wind 
(2002) with the Iranian text side by side with the English transla- 
tion. In addition, his production of Mozart’s opera, Co si fan Tutte, 
premiered at Aix-en-Provence before forming part of an English 
National Opera season in London the following year. 

KIMIAI, MASSUD (1942- ). Kimiai, who had no formal training in 
cinema, became a popular director in Iran for his portrayals of work- 


ing-class individuals who are victims of foreign-influenced bourgeois 
society. Beginning his career as an assistant to Samuel Khachikian 
in 1965, Kimiai became a progenitor of the New Iranian Cinema, 
which was galvanized by his Qeyscir (1969), a violent tale of revenge, 
told with innovative cinematography, which has also been inter- 
preted as a critique of the Shah. The film divided critical opinion but 
was highly influential, revitalizing the luti genre, as did Dash Akol 
(1971), Kimiai’s version of Sadegh Hedayat’s short story, similar 
in style and theme to its predecessor, although set in Qajar Shiraz. 
The Deer (1976) is a more explicitly oppositional film in which the 
protagonists stand up against the system even though they know 
they will fail to change it. (This film was being screened at the Rex 
Theater in Abadan when it was set on fire in 1978.) All three films 
star Behrouz Vosoughi. Kimiai continued working after the Iranian 
Revolution, making Red Line in 1983. Perhaps the best-known of 
his postrevolutionary films is Snake Fang (1989), a story of home- 
less children displaced to Tehran by the Iran-Iraq War. Kimiai’s 
cinematic vocabulary (use of long shots, low-key lighting, traveling 
shots, and innovative sound) and the performances of his actors have 
contributed to the warm critical reception of his work, as well as its 
popularity in Iranian theaters. Kimiai’s first wife was singer and ac- 
tress Giti Pashayi; his second, Iran’s most famous and popular singer, 
Googoosh, about whose role in cinema a documentary was made 
entitled Googoosh: Iran’s Daughter (Farhad Zamani, 2000). 

KIMIAVI, PARVIZ (1940- ). Born in Tehran, Kimiavi completed 
a degree at the Louis Lumiere School of Cinematography in Paris, 
where he began his career as assistant director at the Frenin television 
station. In 1970, he returned to Iran, and directed the schoolroom- 
set short P for Pelican. Fie remains best known for his first feature, 
Mongols (1974), which depicts the expansion of television into some 
of the more isolated parts of the country. Its destructive impact— on 
lifestyle and on cinema— is compared to the Mongol invasion of 
Iran in the 13th century. A passing reference to Jean-Luc Godard 
in the film confirms his influence on both Kimiavi’s radical politics 
and his cinema; his work is formally experimental, characterized by 
nonlinear story telling, jarring juxtaposition of images, and jump 
cuts. Stone Garden (1977) and OK Mister (1978) were a continuation 

238 • KIPPUR 

of Kimiavi’s thematic (the foreign presence in Iran) and innovative 
noncommercial style. 

After a 20-year gap— during which he did some work for televi- 
sion— Kimiavi directed Iran Is My Land in 1999. This film tells 
the dreamlike story of a young writer who wanders into the desert, 
where he encounters the great Iranian poet Ferdowsi as well as Omar 
Kyayyam, Sa’di, Rumi, and Hafez; it has been read as a critique of 
censorship. Part of the Iranian New Wave group of filmmakers, 
Kimiavi has had considerable influence on the work of Abbas Ki- 

KIPPUR (2000). Released in the midst of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and 
featuring Palestinian-Israeli actor Juliano Mer, Amos Gitai’s in- 
dictment of Israeli militarism is set in the Golan Heights during the 
Yom Kippur-Ramadan War ( kippur means “atonement” in Hebrew). 
Long takes alternate between panoramic shots and close-ups to frame 
an Israel Defense Forces paramedic unit struggling through the chaos 
to rescue injured soldiers and remove those who have been killed. In 
the film’s most memorable scene, the battlefield is so muddy that the 
paramedics can barely maneuver, at once recalling the environment 
of a Holocaust concentration camp and literalizing war as an absurd 

KOt^YiCIT, HULYA (1947- ). Bom in Istanbul, Kocyigit attended a 
performing aids high school, then began acting professionally in Tur- 
key’s early Ye§iR;am films. She achieved overnight fame for her role 
in Dry Summer (Metin Erksan, 1964), a classic of the period that 
was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Although 
she appeared in numerous rural dramas, including Liitfi O. Akad’s 
migration trilogy, Ko§yigit is renowned for playing thin, blonde, 
light-skinned characters in nearly 150 Yesi Icam melodramas. These 
include the Kezban series, in which she transforms, Pygmalion- like, 
from rural to rich and mannered woman; the child melodramatic 
series, Sezercik , in which she plays a central maternal figure; and a 
remake of the classic Ycsileam tear jerker What a Lover Would Not 
Do? (Orhan Aksoy, 1970). See also LITTLE A YSE. 

Chronicle of the Years of Embers (Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, Algeria, 1975). 
Courtesy of AFD/Typecast Films (U.S. Distributor) 

Alexandria, Why? (Youssef Chahine, Egypt, 1978). Courtesy of AFD/Typecast Films 
(U.S. Distributor) 

Man of Ashes (Nouri Bouzid, Tunisia, 1986) Courtesy of AFD/Typecast Films (U.S. 

A Door to the Sky (Farida Benlyazid, Morocco, 1988). Courtesy of AFD/Typecast 
Films (U.S. Distributor) 

Nights of the Jackal (Abdul latif Abdul-Hamid, Syria, 1989). Courtesy of AFD/ 
Typecast Films (U.S. Distributor) 

The Tornado (Samir Flabchi, Lebanon, 1992). Courtesy of AFD/Typecast Films 
(U.S. Distributor) 

Living in Paradise (Bourlem Cuerdjou, France/Algeria, 1998). Courtesy of AFD/ 
Typecast Films (U.S. Distributor) 

Kippur (Amos Citai, Israel, 2000). Couresty of ACAV Films 

Rana's Wedding: Another Day in Jerusalem ( Hany Abu-Assad, Palestine, 2002). 
Courtesy of AFD/Typecast Films (U.S. Distributor) 

Zaman: The Man from the Reeds (Amer Alwan, Iraq, 2003). Courtesy of Pathfinder 
Pictures (U.S. Distributor) 

Iron Island (Mohammed Rasoulof, Iran, 2005). Courtesy of Kino International (U.S. 

A New Day in Old Sana'a 
(Bader Ben Hirsi, Yemen, 
2005). Courtesy of AFD/ 
Typecast Films (U.S. 

Valley of the Wolves, Iraq (Serdar Akar, 2005). Courtesy of Pana Films 


KOKER TRILOGY. Although director Abbas Kiarostami does not 
necessarily consider the three films he made between 1985 and 1992 
in the Koker region of Gilan in northern Iran to comprise a trilogy, 
they are nonetheless seen that way by many critics. Where Is the 
Friend’s House? (1986), the story of a schoolboy in dogged search 
of his schoolmate’s house in a neighboring village in order to return 
his notebook and thus prevent their teacher’s wrath and the friend’s 
possible expulsion, is the epitome of the child-centered, broadly 
humanist tendency that characterized art filmmaking in Iran under 
strictures of Islamic censorship. Made for the Center for the Intel- 
lectual Development of Children and Young Adults, the film is a 
deceptively simple morality tale not incompatible with the dominant 
ideology to which the Ruhollah Khomeini regime in fact adhered 
only inconsistently. 

The villages that served as location settings for Where Is the 
Friend’s House? suffered badly from the Rudbar earthquake of 
1990, prompting Kiarostami’s return to ascertain the condition of his 
entirely nonprofessional local cast. Life and Nothing More (aka And 
Life Goes On) (1992) is a fictionalized version of that quest, in which 
a directorial figure attempting to find the protagonists of his film per- 
forms an obvious parallel to the search for the house in the first film. 
Although he eventually receives word that they are safe, the director 
does not actually locate the boys. In the third film, Through the Olive 
Trees (1994), however, they are encountered quite casually, as a pro- 
duction assistant on the making of the film- within- the-film— which 
indeed turns out to be Life and Nothing More— enlists them to find 
potted plants that will play a role in a scene of which we are to see 
repeated takes. Through the Olive Trees opens with a directorial 
figure (Mohammed-Ali Keshavarz, the trilogy’s only professional 
actor) announcing that he is indeed but an actor playing a role; later 
we see him in discussion with and directing the “director” of Life and 
Nothing More. 

Thus, each film changes the way an audience relates to the earlier 
films, as it foregrounds their constructedness. The latter two are also 
key documents, along with Close-Up (1990), in Kiarostami’s explo- 
ration of the relationship between documentary and fiction. Aside 


from its self-referential nature, the trilogy is noteworthy, among 
many other things, for its motif of zigzagging paths, a long dark 
sequence in Where Is the Friend’s House?, and many long-take- 
long-shot combinations including those that end the last two films. 
These devices advanced an aesthetics of ambiguity that endeared 
Kiarostami to foreign critics and audiences; however, the trilogy has 
also been criticized within Iran for romanticizing a rural lifestyle and 
exploiting the Rudbar earthquake. 

KTARI, NACEUR (1943- ). Ktari studied film in Paris at the Institut 
des hautes etudes cinematographiques, then in Rome at the Centro 
Sperimentale de Cinematografia, before making his debut with one 
of Tunisia’s most successful films on emigration to France, The 
Ambassadors (1975, coproduced with Libya), which concerns the 
development of collective class consciousness by Tunisian migrant 
workers in France as they organize for better conditions and treat- 
ment. (The title refers to the ironic name given by the French to Arab 
migrant workers.) In the Goutte d’Or neighborhood of Paris, North 
African immigrants share a tiny apartment surrounded by French 
workers with whom they cohabit uneasily. There, Salah witnesses 
incidents that comprise daily life for his compatriots living in tedium 
and depression, as French racists escalate tensions with a series of 
attacks ending in a double murder. In 2000, Ktari directed Sweet and 
Bitter (aka Be My Friend), about a playwright who suffers several 
breakdowns but is helped by his wife, who goes so far as to invite 
her husband’s mistress over to help him recuperate. See also BEUR 

KURDISTAN ( also KURDS). Kurdistan is a mountainous area that 
straddles the borders of the Middle Eastern countries of Turkey, 
Iraq, Iran, and Syria, with the extreme northeast of the region now 
in Armenia. Most of Kurdistan constituted a province of the Otto- 
man Empire prior to World War I, although part of it was — and has 
remained— in Iran. The Kurdish language is related to Persian. Al- 
though the area is predominantly Muslim and Kurdish, it comprises 
significant religious and ethnic minorities. Since the Gulf/Iraq 
Wars, Iraqi Kurdistan, roughly the northern third of Iraq, has been 
recognized by many international powers as autonomous, but there 


is no such recognition for the Kurds in the surrounding countries. 
(Perhaps symptomatic of this lack of recognition is the fact that the 
Egyptian epic film Saladin [Youssef Chahine, 1963], which depicts 
the humane, 12th-century Islamic leader’s tolerant approach to war- 
fare during the Crusades, does not acknowledge that he was Kurd- 
ish.) The greatest number of Kurds live today in Turkey, where they 
comprise between 15 and 25 percent of the population. (Estimates 
vary and are contested.) 

The best-known of Kurdish filmmakers has been Yilmaz Giiney, 
the most prominent of many minority directors who have worked 
in Turkey’s Ye§iUjam industry. Apart from being a star actor, the 
“ugly king” of Turkish cinema, Giiney was also involved with the 
1970s leftist movements. His Kurdish identity was not foregrounded 
until late in his life and career, a change symbolized by the place- 
ment of a banner reading “Kurdistan” on a bridge in the movie The 
Way (§erif Goren, 1981). Generally, the representation of Kurds in 
Yes i I cam has been limited to rural dramas and comedies, in which 
their Kurdish identity is not openly stated but signaled through the 
character’s accent. However, in the post-Ye§il<;am period, a number 
of films have portrayed overtly Kurdish characters, and a few have 
been shot in the Kurdish language. Mem and Zin (Umit Elci. 1991) 
and Xece and Siyabend (§ahin Gok, 1993) are both love stories 
based on Kurdish folk tales, while The Bandit (Yavuz Turgul, 1996) 
introduced Kurdish-named main characters such as Baran and Keje. 
Propaganda (Sinan (3etin, 1999) makes fun of the ban on the use 
of Kurdish language in the audiovisual media in Turkey by having 
Kurdish characters speak in a nonexistent language. Exilic Turkish 
Kurd Nizamettin Amj, based in Germany, home to a large Kurdish 
diasporic population, directed a Kurdish-language film, A Song for 
Beko , there and in Armenia in 1992. It narrates the story of a Kurd 
escaping from Turkey so as not to serve in the Turkish army, then 
migrating to Germany by way of northern Iraq. The Photograph 
(Kazim Oz, 2001) concerns the evolving friendship between two bus 
travelers on their way to southeastern Turkey, one to join the Turkish 
army and the other the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the driv- 
ing force behind the Kurdish struggle for self-determination. PKK 
member Halil Uysal, who died in an armed conflict in 2008, directed 
Beritan (2006), which tells the story of a PKK member who jumps 


off a cliff to avoid capture by the Turkish army and the Kurdistan 
Democratic Party of Iraq. In addition to these films, various local 
and regional low-budget Kurdish-language films, including dramas, 
melodramas, and even sex films are produced in southeastern Turkey 
and often sold on the video-CD market or broadcast on local televi- 
sion channels. 

In Iran, as in Turkey, the Kurdish parts of the country have often 
been depicted as rural, traditional, and backward, notwithstanding the 
presence of urban areas in the region that are somewhat modernized. 
This is true for the representation of the Kurd in Abbas Kiarostami’s 
Taste of Cherry (1997), and in his The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), 
shot in a remote Kurdish village in which a Tehrani intellectual awaits 
the death of an old woman and the anticipated ritual scarification 
that will follow it. Samira Makhmalbaf shot Blackboards (aka The 
Blackboard) (2000) in Kurdistan near the Iraqi border; it tells the story 
of itinerant schoolteachers who, along with the rest of the population, 
including the very young and very old, flee Saddam Hussein’s aerial 
attacks. Bahman Qobadi, who played the protagonist in the latter 
film, had also served as second-unit director for the former, and has 
since gone on to establish himself as a significant presence in world 
cinema with a production company, Mij Films, dedicated to further- 
ing Kurdish cultural activity and the making of films that are distinc- 
tively Kurdish. The first of Qobadi’s features, A Time for Drunken 
Horses (2000), depicts the brutally harsh lives of Kurdish smugglers 
who transport goods from Iran to Iraq and back on horses and on their 
own backs. Marooned in Iraq , which followed in 2002, is also a story 
of border-crossings, the plot of which turns on the ravaging of Iraqi 
Kurdistan and the deployment of chemical weapons against the Kurds 
by the Ba’thist regime. Turtles Can Fly (2004), set entirely in Iraq, 
close to the Turkish border, further explores this theme. 

Iraqi-Kurdish films have also begun to be made since the fall 
of Saddam Hussein. The production of a planned film, Uncle Zin, 
initiated between 1990 and 1991, was reportedly produced and com- 
pleted in Turkey; however, Narges, the Bride of Kurdistan (1992), 
directed by actor Mekki Abdullah, was finished in the newly partially 
autonomous region after the 1991 Gulf War, and became the first 
Iraqi-Kurdish film exhibited abroad, although it is little-known. It 


tells the story of a young woman who refuses to go through with an 
arranged marriage when she discovers that her true love has been 
taken political prisoner. 

Hiner Saleem, who earlier had secretly shot documentary footage 
exposing Kurdish living conditions in Iraq, shot his first features in 
Armenia, but returned to his native Iraqi Kurdistan to shoot Kilometer 
Zero (2005), in which the central narrative thread concerns a man’s 
attempt to escape Iraq and service in Saddam’s army. The elliptical, 
episodic structure and wry humor is reminiscent of Chronicle of a 
Disappearance (Elia Suleiman, 1996), thus pointing to similarities 
in the circumstances and material conditions of Kurds and Palestin- 
ians. Kurdish filmmaking has, however, been much less prominent 
for international audiences than has Palestinian work, although the 
recent establishment of Kurdish film festivals in Berlin, Melbourne, 
and Montreal, in addition to the prominence of Qobadi and a growing 
number of young filmmakers, such as Hussein Hassan Ali, Lauand 
Omar, Babak Amini, and Nazemi Kirik, may signal a change in this 
situation. See also COLONIALISM. 

- L - 

LABAKI, NADINE (1974- ). One of the younger generation of 
Lebanese filmmakers, Labaki emerged during the late 1990s with 
her satirical short, 11 Rue Pasteur (1997). Filmed entirely in one shot 
with overlaid cross-hairs to represent the scope of a rifle, a sniper’s 
disembodied voice expresses contempt for those on the street. By 
marking the invisible presence of the sniper, the film fosters aware- 
ness of the similarities between the sniper’s scope and the camera 
lens, thus compelling the viewer to identify with this uncomfortable 
voyeurism. Labaki honed her skills in television and advertising 
before becoming a premier music-video director, particularly well- 
known for her work with superstar Nancy Ajram. She demonstrated 
her comfort before the camera by playing a lead role in Bosta 
(Philippe Aractingi, 2005), then again in her own directorial feature 
debut. Caramel (2007), in which she focuses on the gendered space 
of a beauty salon. See also WOMEN. 


LAGTAA, ABDELKADER (1948- ). Abdelkader Lagtaa graduated 
from the National Film School of Poland in Lodz. His first feature, 
Love Affair in Casablanca (1990), recounts the tragedy of a youth 
and his father both having love affairs with the same girl. The film 
was controversial in Morocco for its depiction of a teenager engag- 
ing in sexual relations, and for showing her scantily clad. Having 
touched the sensibilities of Morocco’s large youth population, it 
paved the way for still more daring future films. In 1998, Lagtaa fin- 
ished two features for which he served as director, screenwriter, and 
co-producer: The Closed Door (started in 1993, released in 2000), 
which met with numerous censorship problems due to its treatment 
of homosexuality; and The Casablancans (1998), which concerns 
the influence of fundamentalist Islam in schools and fears of police 
harassment. Particularly known for interrogating taboos and depict- 
ing the problems and realities facing youth, Lagtaa’s films were 
frequently censured for projecting an image of Morocco that authori- 
ties preferred should remain offscreen. His work opened avenues for 
other directors such as Mustapha Derkaoui and Nabil Ayouch to 
further explore social taboos. 

LAHLOU, NABYL (1945- ). A Moroccan prolific in the theater 
realm as a director, playwright, and actor, Lahlou studied drama at 
the Ecole Charles Dullin and the Universite du theatre des nations 
in France. In the early 1970s, he taught theater in Algeria and col- 
laborated with the Algerian National Theater. Back in Morocco, he 
continues to write and produce plays in French and Arabic while also 
engaging in writing, directing, producing, and acting in films. Lahlou 
is well-known for his theatrical adaptations for the cinema, such 
as his feature films Al-Kanfoudi (1978), The Governor General of 
Chakerbakerbane (1980), Brahim Who? (1982), The Soul That Brays 
(1984), Komany (1989), The Night of the Crime (1991), The Years 
of Exile (2002), and Tabet or Not Tabet (2006). The intellectual bent 
and raucous plots of his films have led to critical appreciation by that 
relatively small audience familiar with French theatrical traditions. 
Lahlou’ s characters often experience psychic malaise caused by so- 
cial inequities, such as the hero of Brahim Who?, whose struggle to 
gain his retirement funds is met by bureaucratic hurdles that border 
on the hysterical and lead to his descent into an underworld inferno. 


His most recent work at this point is The Gardens of Samira, the story 
of a woman whose sexless marriage leads her into a relationship with 
her husband’s nephew. 

Lahlou is also known as an outspoken critic of Moroccan cinema 
generally: its production, distribution, and problematic state support. 
Although state funding has increased, Lahlou critiques its inequitable 
dissemination and distribution and further complains about the ongo- 
ing lack of trained personnel in sound, cinematography, and edit- 
ing — training which the government continually leaves to the private 
sector and as an ostensible by-product of transnational filmmaking 
in the country. 

LAKHDAR-HAMINA, MOHAMED (1934- ). Born in M’sila, Alge- 
ria, Lakhdar-Hamina became the best-known Maghrebi filmmaker 
of the 1960s and 1970s. After studying in France, he defected from 
military service in 1956, upon learning of his father’s death, to be- 
come part of the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN). He joined 
the Cinema Service of the provisional national government in exile in 
Tunisia in 1958. Lakhdar-Hamina then studied briefly at the Filmov 
Akademie Muzickych Umenl in Prague before returning to Algeria 
to found the Office des actualites Algeriennes, which he directed 
from 1963 until its dissolution in 1974, and through which he made 
numerous documentaries and newsreels before launching into fic- 
tion filmmaking with The Wind of the Aures (1966). 

He subsequently directed Hassan, Terrorist (1967), in which Has- 
san, a likeable Algerian middle-class coward (Rouiched, who had 
originally created the part for the stage), is dragged into the center of 
the revolution and believed to be a terrorist. It proved hugely popular 
and prompted a series of films and television appearances by Has- 
san, including a role in Mustapha Badie’s Hassan Term’s Escape 
(1974). Although a comedy, Hassan, Terrorist is also a political in- 
tervention, and thus characteristic of all of its director’s work. 

Indeed, Lakhdar-Hamina’ s next film, December (1972), concerns 
torture, and was inspired by his own father’s experiences as a politi- 
cal prisoner. In Algiers, an FLN leader is arrested by the colonial 
army, but its use of torture brings about a crisis of conscience for one 
French officer. Likewise, Lakhdar-Hamina’ s subsequent Chronicle 
of the Years of Embers (1975) is an epic account of events leading 


up to the establishment of the independent Algerian state, and was 
the first Arab film to win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’or. 
By this point, Lakhdar-Hamina had established himself at the pin- 
nacle of Algerian cinema and became highly influential in the state’s 
monopolistic production organization, the Office national pour le 
commerce et l’industrie cinematographiques, of which he eventu- 
ally became director from 1981 until its dissolution in 1984. His son, 
Malik, is a director, and acts in October in Algiers (1991). 

LEBANESE CIVIL WARS. While the “civil war” in Lebanon is 
typically bracketed by a 15-year period beginning in 1975 and 
extending to 1990, “the South” ( al-Janub ) remained occupied 
by Israel until 2000, and the concurrent Syrian occupation, cel- 
ebrated for maintaining the “peace,” only ended in 2005. This 
periodization of the war years also fails to account for the escala- 
tion of political violence since the assassination of former Prime 
Minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005. Likewise dislocated from 
this conventional chronology is the fact that the first Lebanese 
Civil War broke out in 1958, a conflict that already revealed un- 
derlying tensions festering during Lebanon’s so-called “golden 
age,” when Nasserism compelled many Egyptian filmmakers and 
actors to relocate to Beirut. These historical events are, however, 
surprisingly absent from the cinematic record of the prewar period. 
Instead, Lebanese, Egyptian, and Western films set in Lebanon 
typically focused on its cosmopolitan and recreational sensibili- 
ties, exemplified by the work of Mohamed Selmane. Only on the 
brink of war did some filmmakers produce more prescient pieces 
about the imminent downfall of Lebanese society. For instance, 
Maroun Baghdadi’s early Beirut, Oh Beirut (1975) revealed the 
latent problems threatening social breakdown. 

Baghdadi and others studied filmmaking in Europe and, upon 
return at the beginning of the war, often used their skills to make 
documentaries about it. This critical period saw the emergence of 
several women filmmakers, including Jocelyn Saab, Randa Chahal 
Sabbagh, and Heiny Srour, some of whom expanded on journalism 
careers to make both documentaries and features. Mai Masri and 
Jean Chamoun also began to make documentaries about the civil 
war, their prolific oeuvre frequently observing the role of women 


(Wild Flowers: Women of South Lebanon [1986]) and the impact on 
children (War Generation Beirut [1988]). 

Feature films produced during the Lebanese civil wars often dis- 
play realist characteristics by virtue of their having been shot on lo- 
cation in a war zone. Dangerous conditions often forced directors to 
film scenes in single takes or to negotiate with militants, as occurred 
during the making of Beirut the Encounter (Borhane Alaouie, 
1981), Little Wars (Maroun Baghdadi, 1982), and The Tornado 
(Samir Habchi, 1992). These thoughtful examinations of life dis- 
rupted by political violence often relied on meager funding and poor 
production conditions, although the civil war era also witnessed the 
prolific rise of commercial B-films imitating Reagan-era Flollywood 
action films, but with melodrama and romance scenes intercut. The 
prominent filmmakers of this genre were Youssef Charaf ed-Din and 
Samir al-Ghoussaini. 

Cinema-going was a popular pastime in Beirut before the war. 
Even as theaters started closing or were being destroyed, filmmakers 
such as Mohamed Soueid took refuge from the violence by attending 
afternoon matinees. Later during the war, theaters became venues 
for artistic performances and experimental videos, as with Elias 
Khoury’s directorship of the Beirut Theatre. These wartime endeav- 
ors would lead to the postwar festivals of Ayloul, Flome Works, and 
the Beirut Street Festival, among others. 

Toward the end of the war and into the postwar era, some filmmak- 
ers and artists began to disrupt the realist representation of exile — 
Mona Hatoum’s Measures of Distance (1988), for example— and 
of war, particularly Walid Raad, Akram Zaatari, Jayce Salloum, 
and Soueid. These experimental videos ultimately critiqued oriental- 
ist representations of Lebanon as a readily comprehensible site of 
Middle Eastern violence, for example (This Is Not Beirut) / There 
Was & There Was Not (Salloum, 1994). Drawing on found footage, 
personal storylines, and fictional elements, these works blurred the 
boundaries of documentary, narrative, and video art. Video often 
proved the most accessible format for filmmakers to tell their stories, 
and several have contributed to the postwar visual record with per- 
sonal video essays, including Alone with the War (Danielle Arbid, 
2000), Roads Full of Apricots (Nigol Bezjian, 2001), and Face A / 
Face B (Rabih Mroue, 2001). 


During the postwar period (1990-2005), the vast majority of 
Lebanese films revisited the war. Some of the same experimental 
devices utilized in video art were also employed in narrative pieces to 
evoke self-reflexive critiques of the war’s representation. Cameras, 
photographers, and intertextual references to prior films are common 
markers of Lebanon’s vexed, postwar cinephilia, exemplified in the 
masterful cut-up montage Once Upon a Time, Beirut (Saab, 1995), 
which integrates clips from hundreds of films. 

Although Beirut the Encounter typified the imminent departure of 
many Lebanese during the civil war, films such as Time Has Come 
(Jean-Claude Codsi, 1994), Phantom Beirut (Ghassan Salhab, 
1998), and A Civilized People (Sabbagh, 1999) marked the tenu- 
ous process of return. Indeed, filmmakers who left during the war 
returned to work in Lebanon during the postwar period, as exempli- 
fied by the nostalgic coming-of-age film West Beirut (Ziad Doueiri, 

1998) . Those who remained have tended to depict less rosy pictures, 
as evidenced, for example in In the Shadows of the City (Chamoun, 
2000), In the Battlefields (Arbid, 2005), and Zozo (Josef Fares, 2005). 
Around the Pink House (Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 

1999) is one of only a few films that address the postwar period itself, 
by looking critically at the impact of development projects on squat- 
ters. The comedic short films of Hany Tamba ( After Shave [2005]) 
have more consciously mocked the mythical qualities of Lebanese 
prewar nostalgia, whereas the high-budget Bosta (Philippe Aractingi, 
2005) sets out to mend the tattered national identity through reviving 
just those qualities. 

Another prominent theme in postwar Lebanese cinema concerns 
the issue of political disappearances. The “Western hostage crisis,” 
in which a large number of French and United States citizens were 
captured for political leverage, is treated in Out of Life (Baghdadi, 
1990) and On a Day of Ordinary Violence, My Friend Michel Seurat 
. . . (Omar Amiralay, 1996). Critical of the way these Western 
captivity narratives were privileged over Lebanese trauma stories, 
the experimental video Hostage: The Bachar Tapes (Raad, 2000) 
inserts a fictitious Arab character into the prevailing portrait of U.S. 
hostages. Other works have begun to address the social memory of 
18,000 Lebanese nationals who disappeared during the war: Here 
and Perhaps Elsewhere (Lamia Joreige, 2003) probes at the public 

LEBANON • 249 

amnesia about these disappearances, while The Perfect Day (Had- 
jithomas/Joreige, 2005) examines society’s inability to mourn with- 
out accounting for the missing dead. The ghostly haunting of silent 
victims as well as perpetrators has been the focus of Jalal Toufic’s 
experimental art and Ghassan Salhab’s narrative features. 

Postwar documentaries have also grappled with sensitive issues 
relating to the effects of the war and its political aftermath on Leba- 
non’s Palestinian population. Nightfall (Soueid, 2000) portrays the 
Fateh Youth Brigade as aging drunkards surviving on the memories 
of yesteryear, when some Lebanese forces fought alongside them, 
whereas Massaker (Monika Borgmann/Lokman Slim, 2005) pro- 
vides a series of confessions by Lebanese perpetrators of atrocities 
in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during the Israeli occupation 
of Beirut in 1982. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears (Masri, 2001) 
documents the hopeful but tenuous future of Palestinian refugees 
in Lebanon and the West Bank at the moment of Israeli withdrawal 
from southern Lebanon. 

It is fair to say that, with the assassination of former Prime Minis- 
ter Rafiq Hariri in February 2005, and ensuing events leading up to 
the Israeli invasion in July 2006, the postwar era in Lebanese cinema 
has drawn to a close. While the traumatic baggage of the 15-year war 
continues to inform Lebanese films and video art, these more recent 
events have compelled filmmakers to grapple with immediate issues. 
Several have made pieces that focus on the Hariri assassination and 
the subsequent “Cedar Revolution,” such as experimental videos 
Ce sera beau: From Beirut with Love (Wael Noureddine, 2005) 
and After the Blast (Zaatari, 2006). Many others reacted quickly to 
the 2006 July War between Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah, 
either by documenting the horrific outcome— Ju/y Trip (Noureddine, 
[2006]) and 33 Days (Masri, 2007)— or by using the event as a pow- 
erful backdrop for improvised narrative features — Under the Bombs 
(Aractingi, 2007) and l Want to See (Hadjithomas/Joreige, 2008). 
Events such as these have made commercially oriented films such as 
Caramel (Nadine Labaki, 2007), which do not address the violence, 
quite uncommon. 

LEBANON. Historically, Lebanon refers to the Mount Lebanon 
area of Greater Syria that rises northeast from Beirut and the 

250 • LEBANON 

Mediterranean coast. This mountainous region has historically com- 
prised a large Christian Maronite population, while, to the south, the 
Chouf Mountains have hosted the Druze, a Muslim population that 
split from Shi‘i sects in the 1 1th century. Ottoman authorities strug- 
gled with Druze rebellions throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, 
so the Sunni governors encouraged the immigration of Maronites 
into the Chouf in order to dilute the Druze power base. The escala- 
tion of Maronite-Druze tensions culminated in the massacre of more 
than 20,000 Christians in 1860. France intervened in order to protect 
the Christian population and to undermine Ottoman rule. Despite 
competing promises made to Arab nationalists and Zionists, the post- 
World War I Sykes-Picot Agreement arranged for Britain and France 
to divide their spheres of influence over the region. Maronite calls for 
an autonomous “Lebanon” fit nicely with France’s political desires to 
undermine Sunni alliances with Damascus. Many “Lebanese” from 
this Syrian territory emigrated during these tumultuous times and 
consequently formed the basis of a large diasporic community. As 
many Lebanese were leaving, an influx of Armenian refugees from 
Anatolia found safe harbor among Beirut’s Christian population. The 
arrival of Palestinian refugees after World War II further contributed 
to Lebanon’s already diverse population. 

Appropriately, the first film exhibited in Lebanon told the story 
of an emigrant returning from the United States. The Adventures of 
Elias Mabrouk (1929), a silent comedy by the Italian Jordano Pidutti, 
captures an early period of Lebanese transnationality. Pidutti 
repeated this formula with The Adventures of Abu Abed (1931), 
about an emigrant returning from Africa. Pidutti ’s cinematographer, 
Georges Costi, also worked on Julio De Luca and Karam Boustany’s 
In the Ruins of Baalbek (1933), which told the tragic love story of a 
foreign tourist and an Arab prince. This was the first film produced 
entirely in an Arab country (as Egyptian films were being developed 
in Paris), and it featured dialogue in the Lebanese (“Levantine”) 
dialect with French subtitles. Influenced by Egyptian cinema, Ali 
al-Ariss directed The Rose Seller (1943) with dialogue in Egyptian 
vernacular. Flis second film, Kawkab, Princess of the Desert (1946), 
however, used Bedouin vernacular. 

Mounting pressure from Lebanese nationalists compelled France 
to relinquish its mandate over Lebanon. The National Pact, which 

LEBANON • 251 

recognized 17 sects in a power-sharing agreement, paved the way 
for Lebanese independence in 1943. Although the seeds for future 
conflict remained, the agreement fostered the coming of an economic 
and social “golden age.” Lebanon served as the outlet for the two 
largest oil pipelines in the world, which resulted in Beirut becoming 
the banking center of the Middle East. The allure of ancient ruins, 
sunny beaches, and snow-capped mountains combined with cosmo- 
politan notions of the “Paris of the Middle East” fostered a burgeon- 
ing leisure industry. Mohamed Selmane emerged at this time as 
an innovator of popular formula films. His success peaked in the 
mid-1960s, when he directed several films a year. Baalbek Studios, 
founded in 1956 by Badih Boulos, became a premier production site 
during the late 1960s by servicing the entire Middle East. 

While Lebanese filmmakers such as Georges Nasser, Georges 
Qai, and Michel Haroun directed many films privileging a Christian 
worldview and using the Lebanese vernacular during this era, they 
struggled against the influence and hegemony of Egyptian cinema. 
Meanwhile, the Muslim Lebanese identified more with the pan- 
Arabism of Gamel Abdel Nasser, whose popularity invoked Cold 
War tensions throughout the region and precipitated Lebanon’s 1958 
civil war. In a corollary manner, Nasser’s nationalization of the film 
industry in Egypt encouraged many actors and directors to transfer 
their base of operation to Lebanon. Bolstered by Egyptian talent and 
Lebanese financiers, cinema flourished in Lebanon albeit usually 
with the Egyptian dialect. During this period, the Rahbani Broth- 
ers, along with voice-legend Fairuz made film adaptations of their 
musicals in collaboration with Egyptian directors Youssef Chahine 
and Henri Barakat. By the 1970s, the political environment in Egypt 
had become less restrictive, and Egyptian directors began returning 
home. As a result, production slackened in Lebanon. Struggling to 
sustain audience appeal, Lebanese directors employed increasingly 
sexualized gimmicks. Lor instance, Samir al-Ghoussayni’s The Cats 
of Hamra Street (1972) draws upon the sexual revolution of Ameri- 
can hippy culture. When war returned in 1975, studios and theaters 
were damaged or destroyed, thus sealing this period of Lebanese 
cinema in dust, rubble, and nostalgia. 

A new generation of filmmakers, working among journalism, 
documentary, and narrative, and including several women, emerged 


to engage the war critically. These include Maroun Baghdadi, 
Borhane Alaouie, Jocelyn Saab, Randa Chahal Sabbagh, and 
Mai Masri. While some of this new generation remained throughout 
the war, for most it meant displacement and uncertainty, as depicted 
in Alaouie’s Beirut the Encounter (1981). Even those who found 
refuge in Paris or elsewhere, however, continued to film in and focus 
on Lebanon. These filmmakers created self-reflexive representations 
that reveal acute awareness of the way in which their country had 
been misrepresented and stereotyped by the international media. 
While such films are often characterized by their impoverished pro- 
duction conditions, Western film school training and foreign funding 
like wise inform them. 

When the Lebanese Civil War officially ended, film and video 
began to emerge as dominant forms of cultural revival. Many “return- 
ees” began during the 1990s to recount their experiences, as depicted 
in The Tornado (Samir Habchi, 1992), West Beirut (Ziad Doueiri, 
1998), and Phantom Beirut (Ghassan Salhab, 1998), among others. 
By the early 2000s, Beirut had established itself as a premiere site of 
avant-garde film, video, and art, with several film festivals featuring 
work from Lebanon and farther afield. Bosta (Philippe Aractingi, 
2005) became the first postwar film financed entirely by Lebanese 
funds, and it is arguably the most expensive Lebanese production 
up to that date. However, most films still rely on foreign funding, 
not to mention foreign film festival audiences. Despite the return of 
violence in the wake of the Rafiq Hariri assassination, filmmaking 
continued to thrive on a creative scale. Attempts to generate a cinema 
industry have been less successful; however, the host of audiovideo 
university programs feed Beirut’s significant television and advertis- 
ing industries. Incidentally, the same parameters that attracted Egyp- 
tian filmmakers during the “golden age” now lure advertisers from 
the Gulf States to shoot their commercials in Lebanon. 

LEILA AND THE WOLVES (1984). This experimental feature by 
Heiny Srour presents a feminist revision of Lebanese and Palestin- 
ian history. Rather than representing a conventional character, Leila 
embodies the multifaceted experiences of Arab women generally. 
Transfixed by a vanity mirror, Leila’s self-reflections shift between 
different female subjectivities, each revealing a different aspect of 

LITTLE AY^E • 253 

social expectation, if not outright oppression. For instance, while a 
group of men play convivially on a beach, a nearby group of women 
sit heavily veiled and silent, but later two of them discuss the bur- 
den of gender equality. Evoking the episodic narrative style of A 
Thousand and One Nights, the film’s characterization of an exiled 
museum curator working on an exhibition of Palestinian photogra- 
phy in London serves as a launching pad for challenging the erasure 
of women from history. The curator’s reenactments situate women 
within the center of the Arab resistance, but refuse to replicate a 
discourse of heroism. Permeating the various acts of bravery and 
instances of gender inequality is an aura of senseless loss. A Jew- 
ish Lebanese, Srour is an anti-Zionist whose work in support of the 
Palestinian struggle emphasizes solidarity with women silenced by 
various political resistance movements. Fler effort to challenge the 
dominance of masculinist war narratives also appeal's in her earlier 
The Hour of Liberation Has Sounded: The Struggle in Oman (1974) 
and, more recently, in Rising Above: Women of Vietnam (1995). 

LEILA KHALED: HIJACKER (2006). Palestinian-Swedish director, 
Lina Makboul interviews her childhood heroine, former Palestine 
Liberation Organization guerrilla/freedom fighter Leila Khaled, 
who in 1969 participated in the hijacking of a commercial airliner 
bound from Paris to Tel Aviv, then underwent plastic surgery and 
participated in a second failed hijacking. These acts were conceived 
as protests against the Black September massacre and its aftermath. 
The film opens with extensive Western news coverage of Khaled’ s 
exploits, yet its bulk comprises Makboul’s personal visit to Khaled, 
first in Jordan, then to the latter’s childhood exilic home, the Shatila 
refugee camp in Lebanon. There Khaled attempts to show the young 
middle -class Makboul, who has persistently questioned the ethics of 
Khaled’s political actions, the conditions that have motivated Pales- 
tinians to take drastic measures to draw attention to their cause. See 
also JORDAN. 


LITTLE AY§E (1960). The first Turkish child melodrama, Memduh 
Un’s Little Ay§e tells the story of a little girl who rescues her father 


from jail in order to reunite their family. Upon its success, more than 
10 sequels were produced, and an entire genre of Ye§il?am films 
developed during the 1960s in which little girls and boys were cast 
in leading roles. 

LLEDO, JEAN-PIERRE (1947- ). Lledo, the son of a Jewish-Berber 
mother and a Spanish father, was bom in Tlemcen, Algeria, near 
the border with Morocco, and grew up during the Algerian war of 
independence. After studying directing at the Russian State Insti- 
tute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow, Lledo began making 
films professionally in Algeria, directing two fictional features, The 
Empire of Dreams (1982) and Lumieres (1989), and a dozen short 
and medium-length documentaries. A socialist, he felt threatened 
by Islamists and emigrated to France in 1993, where he directed 
numerous additional documentaries. In An Algerian Dream (2003), 
he accompanies exiled journalist and writer Henri Alleg, the editor 
of polemical anti-colonial newspaper, Alger Republicain, back to 
Algeria to visit former comrades and witness the changes Algeria had 
undergone since liberation— as the now elderly man recalls his im- 
prisonment and torture at the hands of the French during the 1950s. 
In Algeria, Unspoken Stories (2007), the decision by one million 
Algerians to flee their country following its 1962 independence from 
France is revisited through the eyes of four Muslim Algerians whose 
perspectives shed light on the relationship between internalized colo- 
nialism and the postcolonial rise of religious movements. 

by Mohamed Abderrahman Tazi, this comedy broke box-office 
records in Morocco, thus helping renew the country’s faltering na- 
tional cinema. It concerns a man’s unstable relationships with his 
multiple wives, one of whom he divorces in a fit of rage, for the third 
time. By Moroccan law, Hadj cannot remarry her for a fourth time 
until she herself has remarried and been divorced. With the help of 
his remaining wives, who manage skillfully his ensuing tantrums and 
foibles, he engages in an extensive search to locate a new husband 
for his ex-wife, who is willing to participate in a marriage-of-conve- 
nience and subsequent divorce. The plans go awry when the tempo- 
rary husband flees to Europe sans divorce, and Hadj must pursue him 


secretly, since the authorities will not issue him a visa for the reason 
he gives: to look for the husband of his wife. See also GENDER 

Unit made no institutional effort to centrally archive the films it 
produced in Jordan and Lebanon between 1968 and 1982, prompt- 
ing some filmmakers, notably Khadija Abu Ali, to worry about their 
security during the 1981 Israeli attacks on Beirut. Thousands of reels 
of films and footage were stored subsequently in a rented basement, 
but despite efforts to move them during the course of bombings, upon 
the expulsion of the Palestine Liberation Organization from Lebanon, 
the films disappeared. To date, no one is certain what happened to 
them, and no official explanation exists for their loss; in fact, no one 
is quite sure how many films were in this “archive” or whether they 
were even stored in a single location. Together, these films have 
come unofficially to be described as the Lost Archives of Palestin- 
ian Films, to which renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish 
has referred as sadly symbolic of the fragmentation and attempted 
erasure of Palestinian history and culture. 

Some attempts have been made to rediscover these films, but ef- 
forts have been dispersed and largely unsuccessful. It is now agreed 
that most have been lost, stolen, ruined, or at best, scattered around 
the world. An effort to solve the mystery has been made by film- 
maker Azza el-Hassan, who balances a personal and political story 
of retracing these lost images in her 2004 film. Kings and Extras: 
Digging for a Palestinian Image. This film intersperses intact and 
destroyed footage shot by Hani Jawahariya and others with El-Has- 
san’s own filmmaking, including a scene of Jawhariya’s daughter, a 
childhood friend of El-Hassan, holding the camera that was in her 
father’s hand as he died filming during the Lebanese Civil War. 
Parts of her film also serve to historicize Palestinian Revolution 
Cinema and the Lost Archives, as it includes interviews with some 
surviving filmmakers, and portrays El-Hassan straying across Beirut 
in vain search for the secret basement. Another noteworthy effort is 
filmmaker Annemarie Jacir’s curatorial attempts to unearth footage 
from this archive. Her first attempt was undertaken in 2003, with the 
Columbia University-sponsored film festival. Dreams of a Nation; 


her second, in 2007, with a festival in New York, “Palestinian Revo- 
lution Cinema,” which screened films from that 14-year period made 
by both Palestinian and foreign artists. 

LOUHICHI, TAIEB (1948- ). A Tunisian filmmaker who studied at 
the Institut Frangais de cinematographic and the Ecole Louis Lumiere 
in Paris, Louhichi’s first feature. Shadow of the Earth (1982), is an 
ethnographic drama chronicling the lives and rituals of a nomadic 
Berber tribe in the southern Tunisian desert. When the tribe’s sheep 
are threatened with a devastating illness, a young man leaves for 
the city and returns with money and gifts. Just as his family appears 
saved, military and government officials arrive for a census and con- 
script the young man, who soon dies in the army. The film follows 
his wife to Tunis, where she must go to retrieve his body. Her travel 
through the desert on a bus, and eventually into a cityscape, and her 
sojourn through the strange capital evoke poetically the clash of cul- 
tures and lifestyles between rural and urban settings. 

Louhichi’s subsequent Layla My Reason (1989) revises the Sufi 
legend of Qays and Layla, a tragic romance between a poet and the 
woman he loves. Since childhood, Qays has been in love with Layla, 
whose feelings are reciprocal. Qays’ sung proclamations of love were 
condemned behavior at the time, and Layla’s father forbids Qays 
from pursuing her. Qays stubbornly persists, however, until he loses 
his mind when Layla is married off by force. He vanishes into the 
desert, but his former nanny discovers him and becomes his link with 
the world. Louhichi’s third feature. Moon Wedding (1998), recalls 
the plot of Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (Nabil Ayouch, 2000): 
it concerns a motorcycle gang of Tunisian youth, one of whom is ac- 
cidentally killed during their failed attempt to fix up two physically 
infirm friends. More trouble ensues as the group tries to cover up 
the death by burying the body on an island. The Wind Dance (2003), 
Louhichi’s fourth feature, takes up the perspective of the lost and 
dying, exploring the circularity of creative imagination. Youssef, a 
50-year-old film director, is stranded in the southern Tunisian desert 
while scouting out shooting locations for his next film. As search- 
and-rescue efforts are revealed, we see the hallucinatory projections 
of his increasing delirium; Youssef imagines (and tries to draw) 


characters appearing before him, and soon realizes that he is actually 
playing the main part in his own film. 

LUTI FILMS. This Iranian film genre emerged during the 1950s and 
flourished throughout the 1960s and 1970s. “Luti” refers to a tough 
guy or lumpen rogue. Majid Mohseni was the first luti star, making 
his name in The Honorable Scoundrel (1958). The luti was a work- 
ing-class character living according to a strict code of honor that 
values protecting women and resisting the modernizing or corrupting 
influences of wealth and Westernization. Thus, in luti melodramas, a 
popular model of national and gender identity could be aligned with 
resistance to the Pahlavi regime. Massud Kimiai’s Qeysar (1969), 
marked by its director’s trademark moving camera and oblique 
camera angles, provided a cynical, pessimistic update on the genre 
and was extremely successful in Iran. Kimiai and star Behrouz Vo- 
roughi went on to make other luti films, notably Dash Akol (1971). 
These films feature both luti and lat variations of the stereotype, the 
former being an honorable and brave hero (who dies at the end of the 
film), the latter a ruffian and braggart. Women feature in luti films 
primarily as singers at cafes and bars frequented by the lutis. Despite 
government attempts to reorient the genre by restricting certain of 
its elements, it persisted until the 1979 Iranian Revolution, after 
which many of its stars, both male and female, were banned by the 
new Islamic state. A revision of the genre has nonetheless arguably 
continued both inside Iran— for example, Kimiai’s postrevolutionary 
work— and in exilic productions, often incorporating prerevolution- 
ary stars. 

- M - 

This Belgian-trained Moroccan has been an active contributor to 
North African cinema since the 1970s. His film credits include The 
Days, the Days (1978), Trances (1981), Eyes of the Gulf (1985), 
The Moroccan Goumiers (1992), the documentary trilogy Morocco 
France: A History in Common (2005-2006), and Broken Hearts 

258 • MAGHREB 

(2007). His seminal film Trances, recognized as a masterpiece and 
restored by the World Cinema Foundation, is the story of a highly 
popular Moroccan musical group, Nass al-Ghiwane. Maanouni un- 
covers the private as well as the public lives of the band members, 
interweaving footage of concerts with interviews and scenes depict- 
ing each band member. 

MAGHREB. This term typically refers to the region of northwest Af- 
rica comprising Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, and sometimes the 
disputed territory of Western Sahara, although its original defini- 
tion was somewhat more limited, comprising only that area between 
the Atlas mountains and the Mediterranean. The term has also been 
used to encompass a wider region including Libya and even parts of 
Spain— that is, the Arab West. An Arab Maghreb Union consisting 
of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania was founded by 
Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi in 1989 to encourage economic 
development in the region. See also PAN-ARABISM. 

MAHFOUZ, NAGUIB (1911-2006). Bom in Cairo, Mahfouz is best 
known in the West as a novelist, credited with the rejuvenation of 
Arab literature, and becoming the first Arab writer to win the Nobel 
Prize for Literature. He also had an enormous influence on the Egyp- 
tian film industry, for which he wrote original screenplays, as well as 
adapting his own short stories and novels. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, 
considering his realist approach to fiction, Mahfouz ’s most frequent 
filmic collaborator was Salah Abu Seif— they worked together on 
nine scripts, notably The Thug (aka The Tough Guy) (1957) and 
Cairo 30 (1966)— but he also partnered with Youssef Chahine ( The 
Choice [1970]), Atef Salem (We Are the Students [I960]), Hus- 
sein Kamal ( Adrift on the Nile [1971]), Ali Badrakhan (Karnak 
[1975]), and Tawfik Saleh ( Fools’ Alley [1955]), among other 
notable directors. In addition, he served as head of, and a censor 
for, the General Egyptian Organization for Cinema for a time during 
the 1970s, following Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the 
industry in 1963. His stabbing in 1994 signaled a marked growth in 
Islamist resistance to his secular work (sometimes attributed to his 
support for dialogue with Israel, and notwithstanding his professed 


respect for Islamic culture and civilization). Mahfouz recovered, 
eventually dying from a fall in 2006. 

MAJIDI, MAJID (1959- ). Born in Tehran, Majidi studied at the 
Institute of Dramatic Art and began his film career as an actor. In 
Boycott (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1985), he appears as the protago- 
nist, a leftist who fights the Pahlavi monarchy but does not have the 
faith to envisage an alternative Islamic society. After making several 
shorts, Majidi’ s first directorial feature was Baduk (1992), about 
children sold to drug smugglers. He achieved considerable interna- 
tional success with two poetic, melodramatic films that focused on 
the plight of poor children, urban and rural respectively — Children 
of Heaven (1997) and The Color of Paradise (1999), the latter dis- 
placing the former as the most commercially successful Iranian film 
in the United States. His subsequent Baran (2001) is a love story 
set against the exploitation of Afghan refugees in Iran, a concern 
that Majidi would pursue by shooting Barefoot to Herat (2002) and 
Olympics in Camp (2003) in refugee camps in Afghanistan. 

In a change from his usual reliance on nonprofessional actors. The 
Willow Tree (2005) features Parviz Parastui (The Lizard [Kamal 
Tabrizi, 2004]) as a blind university professor whose sense of inner 
beauty is challenged when his sight is restored. Majidi has spoken of 
his desire to reach large audiences, and perhaps as a consequence, 
his films typically use both camera movement and sound to draw out 
spectatorial emotions to a degree somewhat atypical of post-Iranian 
Revolution art films and more akin to Hollywood cinema. 

tion department of the Makhmalbaf Film School opened in 1996 by 
Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf for the purposes of training 
young Iranians in the art and science of filmmaking. When the Ira- 
nian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance denied Makhmalbaf 
financial support to open the school with an initial class of 100 stu- 
dents on grounds that Iran does not need any more filmmakers of his 
kind, Makhmalbaf started teaching classes at his home to eight of his 
own family members, the youngest being his eight-year-old daughter 
Hana. The curriculum included cycling, swimming, skating, driving, 


hiking, urban navigation, cooking, computer science, foreign lan- 
guages, painting, music, photography, editing, film economics, pro- 
duction programming, screenplay writing, acting, cinematography, 
editing, sound mixing, film analysis, and the history of cinema. Films 
produced by the MFFI include The Day 1 Became a Woman (Mar- 
zieh Meshkini, 2000), The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998), 
Blackboards (aka The Blackboard) (S. Makhmalbaf, 2000), and The 
Silence (Makhmalbaf, 1998). When Makhmalbaf was compelled to 
sell his house to repay the financing loan for his film, A Moment of 
Innocence (1996), the family lost the actual MFFI school/house while 
retaining its name to title their productions. The BBC documentary, 
The Makhmalbaf Film House (2002), chronicles the unusual story of 
this homegrown film school and its internationally acclaimed gradu- 

MAKHMALBAF, MOHSEN (1958- ). The most prominent of the 
filmmakers who emerged after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, 
Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran to a conservative religious family 
and brought up by a grandmother who did not allow him to watch 
films or listen to music. While still in high school, he started to write 
short dramas that were performed in local mosques. Around the 
same time, he formed a tiny, underground, religion-based political 
group, Ballal Habashi, which in August 1975 assigned him to disarm 
a police officer in Tehran. He ended up stabbing the officer, and was 
himself stabbed, shot, arrested, and jailed. Released along with other 
political prisoners because of the Revolution, Makhmalbaf worked 
first as a writer for the new Islamic radio network, then and began 
to make films. 

His earliest work, which rehearses basic film grammar, reflects his 
strong Islamic beliefs and support for the new regime. Makhmalbaf’ s 
second phase of filmmaking entailed more sophisticated cinematic 
language, which could be summarized as an aesthetics of pervasive 
humanism and poetic imagery. Boycott (1985) is a transitional film, 
sharply critical of the Left, but implicitly of all authority that sys- 
tematizes human behavior and thus undermines individual integrity. 
Makhmalbaf’s next three films. The Peddler (1987), The Cyclist 
(1989), and Wedding of the Blessed (1989), address social issues; 


the latter is a story of the trauma of a war veteran, and condemns 
the civilian society to which he returns. Growing increasingly disil- 
lusioned with the Islamic regime, Makhmalbaf made two films in 
1990, A Time for Love (shot in Turkey) and Nights of the Zayandeh- 
Rud, which remain banned in Iran for their depictions of adultery 
and obsession. 

A series of films about the cinema followed. Once Upon a Time 
Cinema (1992) tells the story of the art form in Iran and includes clips 
from many films interlaced into a parable about a king who hates 
movies, reminiscent of Avanes Ohanian’s Haji Agha, Cinema Actor 
(1932). Salaam, Cinema is a thought-provoking analysis of power, 
in which Makhmalbaf plays himself as a tyrannical director casting 
a new film. The casting call turns out to be the film, and as the “ac- 
tors” leave their auditions, they are told that their performances are 
complete. A Moment of Innocence (1996) recounts Makhmalbaf’s 
youthful attempt to disarm the police officer, prompted by the ap- 
pearance of the same officer from the casting call in Salaam, Cinema. 
Both Makhmalbaf and the officer train young actors to perform their 
roles, but the boys finally reject violence, refusing to enact shooting 
and stabbing, and instead exchange a flower and piece of bread. The 
film closes on a carefully composed freeze-frame that captures this 
exchange and the look of a young girl who seems to protect the action 
from the past as she holds up her chador. 

Makhmalbaf’s next two films are celebrations of art. Gabbeh 
(1996) is a film of a magical realism rooted in Persian literature and 
miniature painting, in which dream, creative imagination, and reality 
intermingle in a single frame. The use of color in this film about the 
creation of gabbeh rugs infuses both the narrative structure and the 
visual style. The Silence (1998), shot in Tajikistan in an attempt to 
circumvent censorship restraints, but still banned in Iran for its depic- 
tion of female dancing, narrates the elliptical, poetic story of a blind 
boy fascinated— and constantly distracted— by sound. Makhmalbaf 
has continued to make films regularly in the 21st century: Kandahar 
(2001), a docudrama about a journey to Afghanistan told through 
the lens of a young Afghan woman who has been living in Canada; 
Sex and Philosophy (2005), a search to understand love through self- 
examination; and Scream of the Ants (2006), about the love between 
an atheist man and a woman who believes in God. Makhmalbaf 


married his first wife, Fatemah Meshkini, shortly after the revolution, 
and had three children, Samira, Maysam, and Hanah. All of them, 
along with his second wife, Marzieh Meshkini, whom he married 
after her sister’s death, have become filmmakers working through the 

Makhmalbaf Film House, a family-run film school. 

MAKHMALBAF, SAMIRA (1979- ). Samira left school at the age 
of 14 to learn cinema from her father, Mohsen Makhmalbaf at the 
Makhmalbaf Film House. She became the youngest director in the 
world to participate at the Cannes Film Festival with her first full- 
length feature film. The Apple (1998), which follows the lives of two 
girls, imprisoned in their own home by their father. Hovering half- 
way between documentary and fiction, with a simple yet multivalent 
symbolism, The Apple epitomizes the existential role played by cin- 
ema in Iran, at times acting as an antidote to the collusion of family 
bonds, oppression of women, and religious strictures. Using the girls, 
their parents, the welfare office, and the neighbors to “act” as them- 
selves, Makhmalbaf s camera and script provide the “story-line” for 
the gradual unfolding of the meaning of their house-arrest to them 
and to us. Makhmalbaf continues her experimental, post-neorealist 
allegorization of war and human neglect in Blackboards (aka The 
Blackboard) (2000), which opens with the striking image of a group 
of teachers who carry large chalkboards strapped on their backs as 
they search for lost and neglected Kurdish students in the no-man’s 
land between Iran and Iraq. She was also one of the 1 1 directors who 
participated in 09’ 11” 01 - September 11 (2002), an internationally 
coproduced omnibus film that assembled an international array of 
filmmakers, including Youssef Chahine and Amos Gitai, to present 
narratives about the titular attack on the World Trade Center. At Five 
in the Afternoon (2003) explores the oppression of women in war- 
torn Afghanistan, while critiquing the slow coming to fruition of the 
promised opportunities for women after the fall of the Taliban. See 

MAKING OF (2005). Coproduced with Morocco and France, this 
Tunisian film directed by Nouri Bouzid is widely interpreted as a 
docudrama about disillusionment with European participation in the 
2003 United States-led invasion of Iraq, rendering a boy vulner- 


able to persuasion by Islamists who train him to become a suicide 
bomber. Making Of offers a highly reflexive critique of any such 
simplified explanations for the phenomenon of violent resistance 
across the Middle East. 

Set largely in the streets of Tunis, the film’s first third conveys 
a realist perspective on working-class youth and street children 
whose main social outlet is break-dancing, but who are repeatedly 
warned against its public performance by the local police, for whom 
it portends gang violence. Bahta, the 25-year-old “leader” of young 
boys in his neighborhood, is also the most talented of the local danc- 
ers. When he is finally arrested for ignoring police warnings, which 
causes problems for his love relationship with a bourgeois girl and 
brings him into further conflict with his authoritarian father, he de- 
cides to emigrate to Europe but cannot, as the ship’s captain to whom 
he has given money for a ticket has absconded with it. Down-and- 
out, Bahta is approached by Islamists, who try to convert him from 
his secular ways. 

Suddenly, the drama is interrupted, as the actor playing Bahta, Lotfi 
Abdelli, becomes enraged and tells Bouzid, now also in the picture, 
that he no longer wishes to participate in the film, which he sees as 
straying from the assumed aim of showcasing his dancing talents. Al- 
though Bouzid convinces Abdelli to continue, he interrupts the narra- 
tive again later when Bahta is close to conversion, to complain about 
the film’s promotion of negative Muslim images. Bouzid promises 
not to distribute the finished film if Abdelli' s estimation proves cor- 
rect. The film’s catharsis (as Bouzid refers to it) occurs after Bahta 
is punished by the Islamists for beating up his girlfriend; perceived 
as undisciplined, Bahta is locked up in a remote, abandoned factory, 
where his frustration is quickly harnessed by his discovery of a strap- 
on bomb — possibly planted there by his captors. By film’s end, Bahta 
detonates the bomb while wearing it— but not in an act of terrorism. 
Although the extent to which the narrative irruptions were scripted 
remains unclear, they are probably best read as reflexive commentar- 
ies that invite comparison with works by Iranian filmmakers Jafar 
Panahi, Abbas Kiarostami, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. 

MALAS, MOHAMMAD (1945- ). A refugee from his birthplace 
of Quneitra, a village in the Golan Heights destroyed during the 


Six-Day War, Malas is considered the first auteur of Syrian cinema. 
Between 1965 and 1968, he worked as a schoolteacher, then studied 
film from 1968 to 1974 at the Russian State Institute of Cinematog- 
raphy (VGIK), where his peers included Oussama Mohammad and 
Abdullatif Abdul-Hamid. There, he became practiced in the art of 
short filmmaking, leading to his being hired at Syrian Television in 
Damascus, where he also founded an alternative screening venue, the 
Damascus Cinema Club, with Omar Amiralay. 

After directing a spate of short films, Malas made his first feature. 
Dreams of the City (1983), co-scripted by fellow VGIK graduate, 
Samir Zikra. Like much of Malas’ oeuvre , Dreams, a coming-of- 
age story set in 1950s Damascus, is autobiographical. It establishes 
a relationship between the dispossession Malas experienced in Qu- 
neitra, and the impetus he claims it has given to his cinephilia: an 
“intrinsic need for expression [of loss] which cannot formulate itself 
except in cinematic terms.” Malas’ ensuing films explore further the 
Israeli occupation and destruction of Quneitra, and the conditions of 
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syria. Exemplary among them 
is The Dream (1988), a documentary comprised of interviews with 
residents of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps near Beirut, shot in 
1980-81, in which Malas asks residents to recount their dreams— a 
technique meant to literalize his view of the shocking, dislocational 
relationship between cinema, history, and the mind. When he learned 
that most of the interviewees were killed by the Lebanese Phalange 
shortly after The Dream was shot, Malas was so stunned that it took 
him five years to finish editing it. 

His next feature. The Night (1992), co-scripted by Oussama 
Mohammad, is comprised similarly of a set of intersecting narra- 
tives— memories recounted by the inhabitants of Quneitra, the film’s 
setting, about the protagonist’s family and the political events of his 
childhood. A film-within-a-film, The Night stars Malas’ son, Omar, 
as a filmmaker in search of the truth about his late father, Alallah, a 
Syrian from Hama. (Hama was site of the 1982 massacre, by Syrian 
President Hafez al- Assad’s forces, of 40,000 suspected supporters 
of the Muslim Brotherhood.) Alallah had fought in the 1936 Arab 
Revolt in Palestine but later died in Quneitra, shrouded in scandal, 
after the establishment of the modern Syrian state in 1946. The film 
subverts Syria’s official, heroic narrative about the Revolt, those who 


fought in it and on whose behalf it was waged, for which reason the 
Censor Board delayed the film’s release for five years. 

Malas has continued making documentaries, including two with 
Amiralay and Mohammad: Light and Shadows, the Last of the 
Pioneers: Nazih Shahbandar (1995), about the pioneer of Syrian 
cinema; and Moudaress (1996), about the poet, novelist, and painter 
Fateh al-Moudaress. Malas returned to feature filmmaking with 
Passion (2005), a Syrian co-production with Tunisia and France 
concerning the rise of Islamism in ostensibly secular cultures. Fie 
has also published film diaries about the making of The Dream , the 
Night , and his VGIK senior thesis film. Everybody Is in His Place 
and Everything Is Under Control, Sir Officer (1974), a collaboration 
about prison conditions in post-Defeat Egypt with Egyptian novel- 
ist Sun’allah Ibrahim. In November 2008, Malas was banned by the 
Syrian security services from overseas travel after he participated in 
an exchange program in the United States. 

MALEH, NABIL (aka NABIL EL-MALEH) (19??- ). Born in Da- 
mascus, Maleh studied cinema at the Film Institute in Prague, after 
which he made numerous documentaries and experimental short 
films for the National Film Organization (NFO) in Syria. These 
works tended to focus on issues of political interest to the Syrian gov- 
ernment during the 1970s, such as the Palestinian struggle and rural 
exploitation, and include his 90-second Napalm (1970), which draws 
associations between the Vietnam War, the Israeli Occupation, and 
other acts of Western military aggression. Maleh's first feature. The 
Leopard (1972), adapted from a novel by Haider Haider and set in 
the early 1900s, concerns a peasant who revolts when his land is 
expropriated by local authorities acting in accordance with the co- 
lonial administration, but whose quixotic individualism undermines 
the potential success of his movement and leads to his demise. The 
film is considered a milestone for having launched an alternative to 
the Egyptian, Indian, and Hollywood industry cinemas predominant 
within Syria. 

Maleh’s subsequent films have continued to critique the politics 
of national and social struggle. For instance, in The Extras (1993), 
Maleh’s fourth feature, the effects of institutionalized revolution 
are analyzed in the context of an impossible love story involving 


Salem, a mechanic, and Nada, a sheltered young woman. In addition 
to filmmaking, Maleh helped initiate the Committee for the Revival 
of Civil Society in 2000, which drafted a short-lived but widely 
acknowledged petition, the Basic Document, calling for reform of 
Ba‘th Party domination of Syrian sociocultural life in the wake of 
which controversy Maleh has elected to seek non-NFO funding for 
his ongoing cinematic work. 

MAN IN OUR HOUSE, A (1961). This realist melodrama, directed by 
Henri Barakat and adapted from the novel by Ihsan Abd al-Qud- 
dus, analyzes the social contradictions of Egyptian anticolonialism 
and attendant class struggle. Ibrahim Hamdi (Omar Sharif) is a 
university lecturer, affiliated with the revolutionary Left under King 
Farouk, who seeks refuge in the middle-class house of his love inter- 
est, a female student, after assassinating a government official and 
escaping police custody. Ibrahim’s presence in the house foregrounds 
ideological divisions within the apolitical family, as some members 
sympathize with him while others desire his speedy departure — and 
the social status quo. When one of the sons, Mohie, and his cousin, 
Abdel Hamid, are arrested under suspicion of harboring Ibrahim, the 
family’s honor is put to the test. (The Terrorist [Nader Galal, 1994]), 
starring Adel Iman, is in some ways an update of A Man in Our 
House, adopting the same basic plot.) 

MAN OF ASHES (1986). One of few Middle Eastern films to explore 
with complex openness the male homosocial, Nouri Bouzid’s first 
feature marks the beginning of a series of films that emphasize the 
personal and psychological dilemmas of their characters. It concerns 
a working-class man, Hachemi, from Sfax, Tunisia’s second city, 
who undergoes a psychological crisis upon his wedding engagement. 
The wedding announcement triggers his memories of childhood 
sexual abuse by an older man, Ameur, in whose carpentry shop he 
had been forced to apprentice along with a friend, Farfat, who was 
also abused and is possibly homosexual. Hachemi confides to an old 
Jew, Levy, with whom he has engaged in philosophical discussions 
since youth, his hesitancy about his arranged marriage, but the old 
man dies before Hachemi can fully explain his trauma. The film 
presents Hachemi’ s recollections of past events through a series of 

MAROCK • 267 

disturbing and disorienting flashbacks that are never straightforward 
or revelatory, but instead unevenly placed and often indistinguishable 
from the present. When, finally the sexual abuse is remembered fully 
and portrayed, Farfat murders Ameur and fulfills a long-anticipated 
escape to cosmopolitan Tunis. 

MARCOS, NORMA (1951- ). Born in Bethlehem, Marcos is an 
award-winning print and television journalist turned film director, 
living in France since 1977. Marcos’s 1994 documentary. The Veiled 
Hope, explores the personal and political challenges facing Palestin- 
ian women by framing an encounter between five women from Gaza 
and the West Bank (Hanan Ashrawi, Flanane Arouri, Joumana Odeh, 
Rima Tarasi, and Yusra Barbari) who take a stand on domestic as 
well as international issues, such as life under Israeli Occupation, 
the first Intifada, and fundamentalist Islam. However, the main 
thrust of their discussion centers on the seemingly insurmountable 
challenges facing Palestinian women in their struggle for self-deter- 
mination. Some of these challenges include child marriage, incest, 
enforcement of veiling, lack of opportunities for meaningful work, 
and the inability to make themselves heard in the public sphere. 

Marcos’s 2006 documentary. Waiting for Ben Gurion, is based 
on her experience of being detained by Israeli authorities at the Ben 
Gurion airport jail while en route to Palestine-Israel to begin produc- 
tion on a documentary. Although the charges against Marcos were 
dismissed after seven weeks, Marcos used the time spent in jail to 
get a prisoner’s view of Bethlehem, shooting her new quarters with a 
mini-DV camera, as well as conducting impromptu interviews with 
her seven-year-old niece, who visited her in prison. See also GEN- 

MAROCK (2005). This French-funded, Hollywood-styled teen-pic 
sparked public debate in Morocco for its depiction of a tragic love 
relationship between a Muslim and a Jew. Purportedly reflecting 
the Moroccan youth of its director, Leila Marrakchi, who would 
subsequently emigrate to France, Marock was widely criticized for 
apparently supporting Zionism and for projecting a view of Islam 
thought to resonate with European prejudices. Scholarly readings of 
the film have understood it somewhat differently, as a symptomatic 


critique of contemporary Moroccan economic politics in the context 
of globalization, especially the ensuing influx of digital technologies 
and concomitant diaspora of digital labor. Indeed, this disparity 
of interpretations emblematizes the contradictions of postcolonial 
Maghrebi filmmaking in the transnational, neoliberal era. 


Born in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Masharawi grew 
up working as a day laborer in Israel during the 1970s. His film 
career began as a carpenter and production designer on Wedding in 
Galilee (Michel Khleifi, 1987). Against parental advice, community 
criticism, and economic odds, he dabbled in filmmaking in the late 
1980s, eventually becoming the most successful Gazan filmmaker, 
before establishing the Ramallah-based Cinema Production and 
Distribution Center and Mobile Cinema in 1996 and 1997, respec- 

Masharawi has been involved, either as production team member, 
director, or producer with more than 20 films since the late 1980s, 
making him one of the most prolific Palestinian filmmakers. He 
shared his early works, such as Passport (1985), only with close 
friends, thus making The Shelter (1989), about a day laborer in Is- 
rael, his first publicly available piece. In both his documentary and 
feature work, he attempts to represent everyday Palestinian life under 
realistic political and economic conditions, in particular the experi- 
ence of being a refugee and living in refugee camps. His films often 
include scenes inside homes and camp alleyways, symbolizing the 
spatial, political, and economic confinement of Palestinian refugees. 
Curfew (1993), shot partly surreptitiously during military curfew in a 
Gaza camp, symbolizes this sense of spatial claustrophobia, creating 
a dichotomy between the Israel Defense Forces-controlled external 
spaces of the camps versus the female-controlled spaces of kitchens 
and living rooms. 

Masharawi’ s crowning achievement was the screening of his 
feature, Haifa (1996), at the Cannes Film Festival— reverberating a 
common theme among Palestinian filmmakers of gaining acceptance 
as a legitimate national entity in the world of film festivals and com- 
petitions. His ensuing films include the short Upside-Down (2000), 
a reflection on land, culture, and food, named after the popular rice 

MASRI, MAI *269 

dish; Ticket to Jerusalem (2002), which portrays the difficulties 
faced by a West Banker trying to organize a film screening in Jeru- 
salem; and Arafat, My Brother (2005), a biopic of the late Palestin- 
ian leader through the eyes of his sibling. His subsequent Waiting 
(2005) is representative of Palestine in the post-Oslo Accords era: 
Palestinians’ difficulties in institution-building and finicky foreign 
assistance against the backdrop of the difficulty of crossing over 
national boundaries with passports and paperwork seldom officially 
recognized. Waiting features real refugees, thus blurring the lines 
between fiction and documentary, as in many of Masharawi’s works. 
This theme is continued in Laila’s Birthday (2008), which redirects 
focus onto the everyday life of a Palestinian judge-tumed-taxi driver 
played by Mohammed Bakri (who also featured in Haifa). 

MASRI, MAI (1959- ). This Palestinian-American filmmaker grew 
up in Lebanon before escaping the early part of the Lebanese Civil 
War to pursue an education at San Francisco State University. After 
graduating, Masri returned to Lebanon in 1981, where she met her 
professional partner and husband, Jean Chamoun. Although she often 
works independently, the two have codirected several documen- 
taries, beginning with Under the Rubble (1983), about the Israeli 
invasion of Lebanon. Most of their work together is concerned with 
social justice issues and focuses on the role of women in zones of 
conflict or on the lives of children affected by conditions of mass vio- 
lence. Wild Flowers: Women from South Lebanon (1986) combines 
observational footage, oral history interviews, and reenactments 
to convey the experience of occupation and political violence. By 
contrast, Hanan Ashrawi: A Woman of Her Time (1995), portrays the 
titular Palestinian legislator and human rights activist as she juggles 
personal and political commitments. War Generation Beirut (1988) 
explores the impact of civil war on Beirut youth, later complemented 
by Suspended Dreams (1992), which profiles four young people 
struggling to re-create their lives in the postwar era. 

Masri has also directed several documentaries about the plight 
of Palestinian children. Children of Fire (1990) chronicles her re- 
turn to her father’s hometown of Nablus, where she witnesses the 
Intifada’s transformation of the younger generation into resistance 
fighters. Children of Shatila (1998) examines the harrowing impact 

270 • MATZPEN 

of persistent violence on two young Palestinians living in one of the 
largest refugee camps in Lebanon. Frontiers of Dreams and Fears 
(2001), shown on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), exposed 
North American audiences to rarely disseminated images of Palestin- 
ians trying to lead normal lives despite arbitrary restrictions on their 
movement across borders. In 2000, Masri produced and Chamoun 
directed their first narrative feature-length film, In the Shadows of 
the City , a semiautobiographical work that revisits the impact of 
displacement and violence on a child coming of age during the Leba- 
nese Civil War. Notwithstanding the trauma encountered in these 
films, perseverance and hope remain persistent, humanizing threads. 
In Masri’s Beirut Diaries (2006), this dimension is brought to the 
political crisis that preceded the assassination of influential former 
Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and in her 33 Days (2007), it facilitates a 
disturbing reflection by Lebanese artists and journalists on the Israeli 
invasion of 2006. 

MATZPEN (2003). The suppressed history of this titular Israeli social- 
ist organization, active in opposition to Zionism from 1962 through 
the early 1980s notwithstanding numerous splits and sectarian spin- 
offs, is excavated and revived in Eran Torbiner’s talking-heads docu- 
mentary noteworthy for its interview cast of renowned New Left 
intellectuals including Tariq Ali, Akiva Orr, Ghada Karmi, Moshe 
Machover, and Michel Warschawski, all of whom remain interna- 
tionally active in the contemporary anti-Zionist movement. Matzpen 
means “compass” in Hebrew. 

MAZIF, SID ALI (1943- ). A graduate of Algieria’s Institut national 
du cinema in 1966, Sid Ali Mazif worked for the Centre national du 
cinema and its successor, the Office national pour le commerce et 
l’industrie cinematographiques, directing numerous shorts as well 
as participating in two collective films. His features include Black 
Sweat (1972), which depicts the rise to political consciousness of a 
young Algerian during the worker’s movement of 1945-54. Mazif’ s 
more militant The Nomads (1975) emphasizes the importance of col- 
lective farming practices for Algerian peasants. Leila and the Others 
(1978) treats the daily obstacles faced by women in Algerian society, 
through the story of Meriem, a student, and Leila, a factory worker, 


both of whom encounter prejudice and other obstacles that prevent 
them from transcending their subordinate positions. His later Houria 
(1986) also treats women’s issues. 

MEETING RESISTANCE (2007). Filmed over the course of 10 
months in the Adamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad, photojournalists 
Molly Bingham and Steve Connors’ feature-length study of armed 
resistance to the U.S. presence in Iraq comprises a series of inter- 
views with various members of the Iraqi resistance— or “insurgents” 
as they are commonly called in the Western media— who explain 
their decision to use violence, as well as describe their functional 
operations (fundraising, planning attacks, avoiding infiltration). The 
film emphasizes the explicitly political foundations of the antioc- 
cupation struggle, depicted as uniting Sunni and Shi’i across the 
so-called sectarian divide. The need to disguise their identities leads 
each interviewee to adopt a pseudonym (for example, “the teacher,” 
“the warrior,” “the Syrian,” “the traveler”). This requirement also 
leads to interesting formal strategies on the part of Bingham and Con- 
nors: close-ups, extreme close-ups on objects (bowls of tea, prayer- 
beads, and hand grenades) that come to represent the individuals, 
and out-of-focus shots — achieved in-camera so as to preclude later 
manipulation— of the interviewees. See also IRAQ WARS. 

MEHRJUI, DARIUSH (1939- ). Born in Tehran, Mehrjui developed 
an early interest in music, learning the piano and santur. He came to 
study cinema at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 
but abandoned it for a philosophy degree, reputedly disappointed by 
the UCLA film school’s Hollywood emphasis. After graduating in 
1964, he started a literary magazine, which he saw not as a rejection 
of cinema but as the best way to combine his literary, painterly, musi- 
cal, and philosophical interests. Mahrjui’s first film upon his return to 
Iran was Diamond 33 (1967), a rehash of the James Bond subgenre, 
that was neither critically nor commercially successful. Mehrjui 
never returned to such action-dominated filmmaking, and his next 
film. The Cow (1969), scripted and based on a story by Gholamhos- 
sein Saedi, began his regular collaboration with important literary 
figures. A metaphoric critique of the Iranian government shot in stark 


black-and-white. The Cow helped launch the Iranian New Wave 
and brought Mehrjui fame both domestically and on the international 
film festival circuit. In Mr. Naive (1970), The Postman (1971), and 
The Cycle (1976), he continued to expose social problems through a 
poetic approach to cinema that could bypass official censorship. 

Although he temporarily left the country following the 1979 
Iranian Revolution— making A Journey to the Land of Rimbaud 
in France in 1984— Mehrjui has returned to make some of the most 
acclaimed postrevolutionary Iranian films. His comedy on the hous- 
ing situation in Tehran, The Tenants (1985), was highly successful 
at the box-office. Hamoon (1990) is a complex tale of intellectual 
alienation, interlaid with dream sequences and fantasies, as the 
eponymous protagonist struggles to balance Western objectivism and 
traditional beliefs. Banu (1992), Sara (1993), Pari (1994), and Leila 
(1996) are all films that center on the lives and struggles of bourgeois 
women, a clear shift from Mehrjui’ s early focus on the poor. Leila, 
banned in Iran until Mohammad Khatami was elected president, is 
the story of a barren woman (Leila Hatami) who, despite her own 
feelings, allows — indeed encourages — her husband to take a second 
wife so that he might have a child. Including many close-ups and a 
shadowy bedroom scene, Leila pushed at the limits of Iranian censor- 
ship; it also provoked vehement criticism for its portrayal of female 
villainy and passivity. Although the film utilizes numerous distanc- 
ing devices— notably direct address to the camera, sound distortion, 
missing frames, and brightly colored fades — the emotionally wrench- 
ing story remains paramount. Mehrjui has completed more than 20 
features to date, sustaining one of Middle Eastern cinema’s most 
significant careers. See also GENDER AND SEXUALITY. 

MEHRJUI, MARYAM (1970- ). This playwright-actor-director 
and daughter of Dariush Mehrjui, born in Tehran, currently lives 
in New York, where she is artistic co-director of Total Theatre Lab 
productions. Mehrjui’s work deals explicitly with the gender dispar- 
ity between men and women and its social and personal ramifications 
in modern Iran. For instance, in a Small Cell in Tehran , the cell in 
which the four young friends are thrown together becomes a meta- 
phor for a society that has imprisoned its youth. 


MEMORY IN DETENTION (2004). Written and directed by Jilali 
Ferhati, this film tackles the formerly taboo subject of secret deten- 
tion centers, torture, forced disappearances, and a range of human 
rights abuses that marked what Moroccans call the “Years of Lead,” 
beginning in the 1960s under Hassan II. Upon his release from 
prison, Zoubei'r, a young delinquent, agrees to help another prisoner, 
Mokhtar (Ferhati), to search for his relatives. Mokhtar has been in 
jail so long he no longer wants to leave, and he has become amnesiac 
during his long detention. Following addresses on old letters, Zoubei'r 
and Mokhtar embark on a cross-country search through Morocco 
for someone who remembers him. Zoubei'r becomes convinced that 
Mokhtar is no common criminal but instead a political prisoner 
who named names to the police, leading to the death of Zoubei'r’ s 
father, while Mokhtar has to unburden himself from the weight of 
the truth. 

MERCEDES (1993). Yousry Nasrallah directed this postmelodra- 
matic tragicomedy tracing the interracial, multigenerational, cross- 
class history of an Egyptian family, spanning the period from the 
1956 Suez crisis to the post-Soviet period marked by the fall of the 
Iron Curtain and its influence on Left politics across the Middle 
East. Organized as a six-part chronicle, the film features Zaki Abdul 
Wahab as Noubi Dahab, the illegitimate white son of a tryst between 
Warda (Yousra), a young Egyptian beauty, and N’Komo, a black 
African diplomat. In an initial black-and-white flashback framed by 
Warda’s voice-over narration, we learn that, in order to avoid scan- 
dal, pregnant Warda had consented to marry an older white Egyptian 
man who was to die shortly after their wedding. She then moved tem- 
porarily to Paris, where she bore her brother-in-law, Youssef, a son, 
Gamal— named explicitly after Gamal Abdel Nasser, from whose 
regime Youssef was in voluntary exile. 

As Warda’s voice-over gives way to that of an adult Noubi, and 
the film stock changes to color, we learn that Noubi had become a 
leftist militant during the 1960s and was committed to a mental insti- 
tution after the death of Nasser. Now released after the fall of the Iron 
Curtain, he must reintegrate into society. He attends the wedding of 
Youssef, now back from Paris, to Raifa (Tahiyya Carioca), a drug 


and child-sex trafficker with connections in Iraq and Kurdistan. 
During the festivities, he is approached by a government ex-spy, Mo- 
hamed Taher, to help him apprehend Raifa; he resists for some hours 
but assents when he learns about his half-brother from Youssef, now 
dying of a heart attack, and understands that Raifa will try to kill Ga- 
mal for the inheritance. Noubi’s quest reveals Gamal’s homosexual- 
ity and heroin addiction and leads to his own encounter with Afifa, 
a poor aspiring belly dancer who looks exactly like his mother (and 
is also played by Yousra), and with whom he falls in love. Like the 
film’s coincidental, arabesque structure, Noubi is only ever passively 
privy to plot discoveries, including the accidental death of Gamal’s 
lover, Ashraf, the murder of Raifa and her female cohort by a disil- 
lusioned follower, and violence between the Mubarak government 
and Islamists. In the end, it is Afifa who saves him and Gamal from 
collateral damage during a bombing in downtown Cairo and drives 
them to what appears a pastoral African location, possibly close to 
Warda’s new home with N’Komo. See also GENDER AND SEXU- 

MIS) (1958- ). Born to a Palestinian father, Israeli Communist Party 
leader Saliba Khamis, and a Jewish-Israeli mother, peace activist 
Ama Mer, the cinematic roles of this prolific Palestinian-Israeli actor 
consistently play upon and often allegorize the political implications 
of his familial intertext, not least his first internationally recognized 
role as Persian King Haman in Esther (Amos Gitai, 1986). The fol- 
lowing year, Mer played an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer in 
Wedding in Galilee (Michel Khleifi, 1987). He would later co-star 
as a troubled youth beside Gila Almagor in Under the Domini Tree 
(Eli Cohen, 1995). Mer’s work with Gitai would continue for more 
than 20 years, including major roles in Berlin-Jerusalem (1989), 
Yom Yom (1998), Kippur (2000), and Kedma (2002). In 2003, Mer 
co-directed his first film, Arna’s Children, a verite documentary 
about his mother’s educational theater program in the Occupied 
Palestinian Territories. Mer has since helped restore the program, 
which ceased following the theater’s destruction during the IDF in- 
vasion of Jenin in 2002, by raising funds for the rebuilding of what 


is now known as The Freedom Theatre, and for opening an acting 
school in Sweden. 

MERBAH, MOHAMED LAMINE (1946- ). Born in Thgenif, Al- 
geria, Merbah studied at the Institut national du cinema d’ Alger 
(1964-1967), did an internship in Poland (1968), and earned a degree 
in sociology at the University of Algiers (1970-1973). As of 1970, 
he worked as an editor at an Algerian publishing house, the Societe 
nationale d’edition et de diffusion, and as a director for Radiodif- 
fusion Television Algerienne (RTA). Almost all of his films were 
produced for the RTA and treat social problems such as water avail- 
ability and distribution, blindness, and housing issues. Merbah’s two 
features. The Plunderers (1972) and The Uprooted (1976), analyze 
the effects of a colonial system that deprived peasants of their lands 
and pushed them to the cities in search of work. During the 1990s, 
Merbah was appointed to direct the Entreprise nationale de produc- 
tions audiovisuelles. 

(1969- ). Meshkini is the director of The Day 1 Became a Woman 
(2000), a film about three women, each of whom faces severe con- 
straints on her personal freedom and mobility imposed not only by 
the men in her life but also by Iran’s patriarchal society that encour- 
ages them. Stray Dogs (2004) follows the lives of two children in 
war-torn Afghanistan. Meshkini studied at the Makhmalbaf Film 
House from 1996 to 2001 and worked with Mohsen Makhmalbaf 
as an assistant director on several of his films. She is married to 

MIDDLE EAST. This is the term used most frequently in the West 
to refer to the transcontinental geographic region spanning south 
central and southwest Asia to North Africa, and bordering important 
maritime trade routes in(to) the Persian-Arabian Gulf, Mediterranean 
Sea, Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean. By this definition, the Middle 
East comprises the countries of Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi 
Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, 
Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and 
Morocco, and the still-colonized regions of Palestine, the Western 


Sahara, and Kurdistan. These countries designate historically bor- 
derless regions marked by bioethnic groupings, which acquired fixed 
names and borders during the course of centuries-long struggles 
against Western European incursion, epitomized in the 20th century 
by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement by which France and England 
divided up the region into colonies and mandated protectorates fol- 
lowing the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. All of these 
colonies and protectorates remained under European control until 
after World War II, when ongoing anticolonial struggles eventually 
won independence for all of them except Palestine, Kurdistan, and 
Western Sahara. 

The use of “Middle Eastern” to describe this divided region has 
come under criticism as orientalist for its categorical generalization 
and organization of societies and cultures on the basis of geography. 
Whereas the majority of Middle Eastern peoples profess Islam and 
speak one of multiple Arabic dialectics (except in Iran and Turkey), 
each country contains numerous ethnic and religious minorities, most 
of whom are indigenous or whose presence predates that of Islam 
and/or Arab culture. Kurds in Iran and Turkey, Berbers in Morocco 
and Algeria, Bedouins in Israel, Carthaginians in Tunisia, Saharawis 
in Morocco, and Druze in Syria, for instance, who are likewise 
“Middle Eastern,” are frequently ignored in representations of the 
region— including the cinematic — emanating from the West and, of- 
ten, from Middle Eastern countries themselves. In addition, the exilic 
and diasporic conditions of millions of Middle Easterners, including 
refugees and beurs living today in the age of neoliberal transnation- 
alism, extends applicability of the term beyond national borders and 
geographical regions. This is evident in films as varied in origin, ap- 
proach, and subject matter as Harem Suare (Ferzan Ozpetek, 1999), 
Bedwin Hacker (Nadia El Fani, 2002), Marooned in Iraq (Bahman 
Qobadi, 2002), Visit Iraq (Kamal Aljafari, 2003), Waiting (Rashid 
Masharawi, 2005), Under the Bombs (Philippe Aractingi, 2007), 
and The Secret of the Grain (Abdellatif Kechiche, 2008). 

Orientalizing tendencies extend to the geographical perspec- 
tive presumed by the term itself, “Middle Eastern,” which places 
Europe— and, later. North America— at the center of a hegemonic, 
globalizing gaze. Analysis of this tendency by Edward Said and 


others is reflected cinematically by numerous Middle Eastern films, 
including Saladin (Youssef Chahine, 1963), The “Nouba” of the 
Women of Mount Chenoua (Assia Djebar, 1978), Leila and the 
Wolves (Heiny Srour, 1984), Introduction to the End of an Argument 
(Jayce Salloum/Elia Suleiman, 1990), Once Upon a Time, Beirut 
(Jocelyn Saab, 1995), Salut Cousin! (Merzak Allouache, 1996), 
The Mirror (Jafar Panahi, 1998), The Other (Chahine, 1999), A 
Woman Taxi Driver in Sidi Bel-Abbes (Belkacem Hadjadj, 2000), 
and Ford Transit (Hany Abu-Assad, 2002). 

MILANI, TAHMINEH (1960- ). Born in Tabriz, Milani is the ac- 
claimed director of such well-known woman-centered films as 
Two Women (1999), The Hidden Half (200 1 ), The Fifth Reaction 
(2003), and The Unwanted Woman (2005). These films have been 
controversial in Iran, particularly The Hidden Half, which led to 
her imprisonment in 2001 for counterrevolutionary statements and 
alleged maligning and misrepresentation of the 1979 Iranian Revo- 
lution. The film tells the story of a young wife who reveals her past 
political association with a leftist group to her husband, a judge who 
is deciding the fate of a woman faced with execution for a similar 
crime. Milani’ s related comments to the media about friends and col- 
leagues from universities who had been dismissed, disappeared, or 
executed for “supporting factions waging war against God” angered 
the conservative Revolutionary Council, which demanded her execu- 
tion. Imprisoned, Milani was released a week later with President 
Mohammad Khatami’s personal guarantee to the Revolutionary 
Council of her good citizenship record. 

Milani’s outspoken political comments are in keeping with her 
courageous stance on other social and cultural issues, specifically 
those impacting Iranian women. In The Fifth Reaction, Milani holds 
up for careful scrutiny the psychosocial effects of separating a mother 
from her children in case of widowhood in certain sectors of Iranian 
society. Niki Karimi plays Fereshteh, a young woman who loses her 
husband in an accident and is then told by her powerful father-in-law 
that she is no longer welcome in their house and that the children do 
not belong to her. Patriarchy’s collusion with economic and gender 
discrimination is powerfully analyzed in this film. Milani offers a 


way out for Iranian women caught in such helpless binds by sur- 
rounding Fereshteh with some gutsy women friends who help her 
kidnap her own children. See also CENSORSHIP. 

political turmoil of the 1970s, the Turkish army, with the purported 
support and involvement of the United States and under the leader- 
ship of General Kenan Evren, announced a coup on 12 September 
1980. The National Security Council formed by the army’s generals 
appointed a prime minister, ex-admiral Biilent Ulusu, and ruled the 
country until 1983, instituting a new Constitution in 1982 (still in 
effect) and allowing Evren to remain president for seven years. Dur- 
ing the coup, hundreds of thousands of people were jailed, tortured, 
and raped; hundreds were killed or executed; and thousands more — 
mainly non-Muslims, leftists, and dissident political activists— had 
their Turkish citizenship revoked. After the 1983 elections, in which 
preintervention parties and political leaders were banned from par- 
ticipating, the military government gave way to limited political free- 
dom. These events affected film production: numerous Turkish films 
came to focus upon themes concerning gender and women’s rights, 
while some leftist films were critical of the military intervention, for 
example, Sound (Zeki Okten, 1986), Keep Singing Your Songs (§erif 
Goren, 1986), and Don’t Let Them Shoot the Kite (Tung Basaran, 
1989). These effects have continued to be a factor in several post- 
Ye§ilgam films, including The Fog (Ziilfii Livaneli, 1993), After the 
Fall (Atif Yilmaz, 2000), Home Coming (Omer Ugur, 2006), and The 
International (Sim Sureyya Onder/Muharrem Giilmez, 2006). 

MILKY WAY (1967). Adapted from a book by classic Turkish romance 
novelist Kerime Nadir, Orhan Aksoy’s film concerns two cousins who 
fall in love. Its typical melodramatic plot portrays the woman deciding 
to marry another man who turns out to be a villain, whereupon she 
reunites with her cousin. An earlier version of the film, directed by 
Nevzat Pesen in 1957, introduced female star Belgin Doruk, while 
Aksoy’s remake stars Hiilya Kogyigit and Ediz Hun. 

MINE (1982). Typifying Turkish director Atif Yilmaz’s acumen for 
telling small town stories, Mine focuses on a train station director’s 


wife who, unhappy with her marriage, enters into a relationship with 
a friend’s brother. An early example of the late Ye^il^am women’s 
film genre. Mine, in stark contrast to prior Ye^ilcam melodramatic 
conventions, portrays its female protagonist pursuing her feelings, 
thus breaking prevailing norms and moral codes of the period. Mine 
is emblematic of the women’s films that emerged in the aftermath of 
the military intervention of 1980, marking an imminent end both 
to overt leftist filmmaking in Turkey and to the late 1970s sex film 
genre, and also reflecting the rise of individualism that accompanied 
the introduction of neoliberal capitalism into the country. 

MISSING LEBANESE WARS (1996). Walid Raad introduced 
his Atlas Group project with a series of videos and photographic 
compilations on the collections of Dr. Fadl Fakhouri, an imaginary 
Lebanese historian, and Operator #17, who recorded surveillance 
footage on the Comiche, Responsible for documenting the meet- 
ings of spies and militiamen. Operator #17 was apparently released 
after recording the sunsets instead. Raad’s narrative reembodies the 
objectified history of the Lebanese Civil War, rendering it intimate 
and incidental. Dr. Kakhouri had donated his notebooks to the Atlas 
Group upon his death: one used in Raad’s film details every car 
bombing that occurred during the Lebanese civil wars, appended 
with fastidious notes; another chronicles historians gambling at the 
racetrack — not on horses, but on the photo finish, a tactic that evokes 
Edward Muybridge’s motion studies, inspired by a bet to prove that 
all of a horse’s feet leave the ground during a gallop. Raad’s camera’s 
inability to record the actual finish speaks metaphorically to missing 
histories of the Lebanese civil wars. 

MIZRAHI, TOGO (1905-1986). Bom into a prosperous Jewish 
trading family in Alexandria, Mizrahi was an Italian national, well- 
traveled in Europe. Becoming interested in cinema, he built his own 
studios, first in Alexandria, then in Cairo. He was a prolific director 
throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, making more than 35 fea- 
tures before abandoning cinema in 1946, and moving to Italy in 1952. 
Mizrahi also directed films for the Greek market. Among his works 
are a series starring Ali al-Kassar, who, like Naguib El-Rihani, 
brought his comic impersonations from stage to screen in the early 


days of the Egyptian cinema. Mizrahi was also the director of the 
early films in the “Layla” series starring Layla Murad and Yussuf 
Wahbi, including Layla, Daughter of the Countryside (1941), Layla, 
Daughter of Schools (1941), and Layla (1942). His Sallama (1945) 
starred Umm Kulthum in her only feature film performance not 
directed by Ahmed Badrakhan. 

MOGRABI, AVI (1956- ). This Mizrahi filmmaker was trained 
in philosophy and art, then learned filmmaking through work on 
commercials and foreign films. Like the art films of Amos Gitai, 
Mograbi’s documentaries are aesthetically challenging and engaged 
in analyzing critically the historical relationship between Zionism 
and Palestinian resistance. In Avenge but One of My Two Eyes 
(2005), for which Mograbi is most known, a Jewish Israeli played by 
Mograbi speaks his thoughts and feelings directly into the camera for 
the majority of the film’s running time, his self-obsession interrupted 
occasionally by shots of him making less than satisfying telephone 
calls to a Palestinian friend living under military curfew in the West 
Bank. Mograbi’s work has been recognized internationally and re- 
ceived critical attention in Palestine-Israel. 

MOHAMMAD, OUSSAMA (1954-). This native of Lattakia, Syria, 
who studied film at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography 
(VGIK), is best-known for his first feature. Stars in Broad Daylight 
(1988), which remains banned unofficially in Syria for its barely 
disguised critique of Ba‘th Party rule. Set during the 1960s around 
Lattakia, a port city along the country’s northwest Mediterranean 
coast near Turkey, Stars features Abdullatif Abdul-Hamid as 
Khalil, a telephone operator who monitors his neighbors’ conversa- 
tions and, made up strongly to resemble Syrian then-President Hafez 
al- Assad, manipulates them into viewing him as the local leader. The 
film’s plot revolves around a double wedding that goes awry in the 
context of family power struggles, especially over the inheritance of 
land, and is set at the time of the 1967 Defeat during the war with 
Israel. Mohammad employs chiaroscuro lighting, eccentric character 
typage, and shifts in time and between rural and urban settings to 
make his allegorical point. 


After co-scripting The Night ( 1 992) with its director, fellow VGIK 
graduate Mohammad Malas, Mohammad took 15 years to make his 
next feature. Sacrifices (2002), an experimental art film and homage 
to Russian director, Andrei Tarkovsky and his monumental The Sac- 
rifice (1986). Both films offer a highly metaphorical critique of the 
contradictions facing noncommercial filmmakers under authoritarian 
conditions. As in Stars , a dysfunctional family beset with inheritance 
concerns allegorizes those conditions at large. In addition to film- 
making, Mohammad served as director of Syria’s National Film 
Organization from 1979 through the 1980s. 

MOHSENI, MAJID (1923-1990). Born in Damavand, Iran, Mohseni 
was a dominant figure in the Iranian star system during the 1950s 
and early 1960s. Beginning with Golden Dreams (Moezeddin Fekri, 
1952), Mohseni commonly played a peasant whose only special 
attribute is his humanity and capacity for self-sacrificial love. In ad- 
dition to acting, he also directed several hit films, including Dream 
and Fantasy (1955), Life Is Sweet (1956), Canary Farm (1957), and 
Swallows Always Return Home (1963). These basically conservative 
films proposed the traditional values of the countryside as a panacea 
for the country’s ills and are strongly supportive of the social status 
quo. His popular The Honorable Scoundrel (1958) is exemplary of 
Mohseni’ s portrayal of the luti, and is arguably the first film of that 
genre: its title accurately describes Mohseni’s depiction of romanti- 
cized masculine virtue. (Farrokh Ghaffari’s South of the City , made 
the same year, drew a far less flattering picture of the dispossessed 
and was, by contrast, quickly banned.) 

MOKNECHE, NADIR (1965- ). Mokneche is a provocative film- 
maker whose films deal frankly with gender and sexuality in 
Algeria. Bom in Paris, Mokneche grew up in Algiers, studied law 
then drama in Paris and, from 1993 to 1995, studied cinema at the 
New School for Social Research in New York City. His first feature, 
which received critical acclaim, was the lighthearted and occasionally 
humorous The Harem of Madame Osmane (1999), filmed in French 
and shot in Morocco rather than Algeria on account of violence in 
the latter. Set in 1993, during the Algerian civil war that pitted the 

282 • MOROCCO 

government against militant Islamists, the film offers a sardonic 
portrait of the Algerian petty bourgeoisie and its frustrated at- 
tempts to emulate Western culture and practices. The delusions 
of grandeur displayed by its titular protagonist (Carmen Maura) 
provide a metaphor for a country perceived to be imploding under 
the weight of stubborn class consciousness. Mokneche’s second 
film, Viva Algeria (2004), was shot in Algeria, as was his subse- 
quent Delice Paloma (2007), which concerns Madame Aldjeria 
(Biyouna, who stars in all three Mokneche films), a woman who, 
upon release from prison, resumes her life of running brothels and 
giving advice in exchange for cash. Mokneche’s films are Franco- 
phone and often feature European actors, practices for which he 
has been accused of hypocrisy and disingenuousness within some 
Algerian circles. 

MOROCCO. A kingdom situated on the northwest coast of Africa, 
Morocco is bordered to the northwest by the Atlantic Ocean and the 
Mediterranean Sea, and to the southeast by Algeria. North across 
the Straits of Gibraltar lies Spain, which dominated the region prior 
to its colonization by France, and which has retained control of two 
enclaves, Ceuta and Melila, on the (otherwise) Moroccan coast. Mo- 
rocco also administers and claims sovereignty over the disputed area 
of the Western Sahara— or “southern provinces”— a strip of desert 
along the Atlantic coast to the southwest, bordered to the south and 
east by Mauritania. 

Morocco inherited a cinema infrastructure from France, which 
had produced numerous propaganda films in support of coloniza- 
tion prior to granting Morocco its independence in 1956. These 
films were produced through both the Centre cinematographique 
Marocain (CCM), a state -run film agency established in 1944, and 
a studio complex in Souissi, Rabat, that opened in 1946. Following 
independence, the majority of films made in Morocco were docu- 
mentaries and newsreels promoting nationalist ideology and popular 
education. Mobile cinemas, or “cinema caravans,” were set up by the 
CCM for the purpose of bringing such films to rural areas. Although 
the CCM delegated the actual distribution and exhibition of these 
and other films to private individuals and concerns, it levied taxes 
against the latter as an income-generating measure. 


Postindependence Moroccan filmmakers frequently trained at 
the Institut des hautes etudes cinematographiques in Paris, and 
subsequently found employment at the CCM. The first three Mo- 
roccan features — Conquer to Live (Mohamed Ben Abdelouahed 
Tazi/ Ahmed Mesnaoui, 1968), When the Dates Ripen (Abdelaziz 
Ramdani/Larbi Bennani, 1968), and Spring Sunshine (Latif Lahlou, 

1969) — were produced by the CCM. The emergence of cinema clubs 
at this time was also significant for Moroccan filmmaking, as future 
critics, filmmakers, and professionals would later emerge from their 

In this context, a dichotomy emerged in Moroccan filmmak- 
ing that would persist for decades: on the one hand were popular 
melodramas evocative of Egyptian industry films, as in the cinema 
of Abdallah Mesbahi; and on the other, intellectually challenging, 
often highly stylized auteur films that received critical acclaim but 
remained unpopular (or unscreened) within the country. The films 
of Souheil Ben Barka, beginning with his first feature, 1001 Hands 
(1972), typifies the latter tendency, as do Traces (Hamid Benani, 

1970) , El Chergui (Moumen Smihi, 1 975), About Some Meaningless 
Events (Mustapha Derkaoui, 1974), The Days, the Days (Ahmed 
Maanouni, 1978), A Hole in the Wall (Jilali Ferhati,1978), and Al 
Kanfoudi (Nabyl Lahlou, 1978). Of these, the films of Ben Barka, 
Benani, Derkaoui, and Smihi, all first features, received no govern- 
ment funding, a situation that was remedied in the 1980s with the 
institution of a Support Fund for filmmaking (Fonds de soutien a 
la production cinematographique), which led to greatly increased 
production by both established and emerging filmmakers. Indeed, 
more than half the Moroccan films produced during this period were 
directed by newcomers, many of whom would never again amass 
the necessary funding to make a second film. Among established 
figures, Nabyl Lahlou directed four features during the 1980s; Mo- 
hamed Abderrahman Tazi, previously a documentarian, made 
three, including The Big Trip (1981) and Badis (1988); and Derkaoui 
and Smihi each directed two. Women filmmakers also emerged in 
Morocco during this period: Farida Bourquia (The Embers [1982]) 
and Farida Benlyazid (A Door to the Sky [1988]). 

In 1987, the Fonds de soutien underwent a financial reorganiza- 
tion. The renamed Fonds d’aide a la production cinematographique 

284 • MOROCCO 

nationale no longer supported an open grant structure, but instead 
began to award funds only to those films whose scripts had been ap- 
proved by a review committee comprised of film professionals and 
government bureaucrats. Meanwhile, Ben Barka had been appointed 
director of the CCM in 1986, a role he held until 2003, when he was 
succeeded by film critic, philosopher, and past film festival director 
Noureddine Sail. 

It was under these altered production conditions that a turn to 
more populist filmmaking occurred, characterized by a tendency 
toward generic structures and individualized focus. Abdelkader 
Lagtaa’s first feature. Love Affair in Casablanca (1990), attracted 
considerable attention in this respect, its youthful audiences evidenc- 
ing significant change in cinema demographics and related interests. 
Tazi’s highly successful comedy, In Search of My Wife’s Husband 
(1993), the most expensive Moroccan film up to that point, followed 
by its sequel, Lalla Hobby (1997), also received massive box office 
revenues as well as popular praise, thus suggesting to producers that 
Moroccans who may previously have refrained from cinema-going 
would shift course if offered films that appealed to their desires and 
perceived interests. 

This period also saw increased cinematic attention to women’s is- 
sues, including Tresses (Ferhati, 2000), Destiny of a Woman (Hakim 
Noury, 1998), Women . . . and Women (Saad Chra'ibi, 1998), and 
Women’s Wiles (Benlyazid, 1999). By 2000, films examining King 
Hassan II’s politically oppressive “Years of Lead” gained promi- 
nence: Ali, Rabia and the Others (Ahmed Boulane, 2000), Jawhara 
(Chra'ibi, 2003), Memory in Detention (Ferhati, 2004), and The Black 
Room (Hassan Benjelloun, 2004), among others. Related themes of 
the period include clandestine immigration ( Tarfaya [Daoud Ou- 
lad Sayed, 2005]) and rural exodus (In Casablanca, Angels Don’t 
Fly [Mohamed Asli, 2004]; The Sleeping Child [Yasmine Kassari, 
2004]). The late 1990s and early 2000s also saw the emergence of 
several young filmmakers from the Moroccan exile and beur com- 
munities, some of whom had studied at film schools. Of these, Nabil 
Ayouch is probably the most significant, with his Mektoub (1997) 
and Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000) achieving both domestic 
success and film festival recognition. Indeed, increasing numbers of 
Moroccan films are beginning to appear at international film festi- 


vals. Ayouch has reinvested his consequent financial means through 
initiatives to help fund works by emerging directors. 

In the 21st century, conditions of both production and, perhaps 
more importantly, distribution— partly under the influence of a new 
company founded by filmmaker, Saad Chraibi— have improved in 
Morocco. In 2003-2004 alone, more than 40 films were produced, 
many of which were box-office hits, including the comedy She Is Di- 
abetic, Hypertensive and Refuses to Die (Noury, 2000); Casablanca 
by Night (Derkaoui, 2003), a social chronicle; and The Bandits (Sai'd 
Naciri, 2003), also a comedy. As producers came to understand just 
how viable popular films could be, an additional change was made 
to the Fonds de soutien system: in 2004, an advance on receipts from 
distribution and sales, and funding for screenwriting and revision 
were made available. In 2006, the controversial French co-production 
Marock (Leila Marrakchi) surpassed Moroccan attendance records 
by selling 130,000 tickets in only two months. Indeed, in an extraor- 
dinary reversal of the usual circumstances in the developing — and in- 
deed, much of the developed— world, some contemporary Moroccan 
films have attracted 400,000-500,000 spectators during this period, 
while no Hollywood film has brought in more than 100,000. 

As in other parts of the Maghreb, many cinemas in Morocco have 
closed due to lost revenues caused by competition with the (pirated) 
video-DVD market and with proliferating satellite dish sales. In 
response, and in an effort to sustain a Moroccan national cinema, 
cine-clubs have expanded throughout the kingdom, and 12 national 
festivals are currently in operation. In addition, opportunities for 
training in filmmaking have been developed in schools that have 
opened in Ouzazarte and Rabat. There is a dedicated film school in 
Marrakech, site of the country’s international film festival and, in 
2005, a master class, Marrakech/T ribeca, was partly conducted by 
Abbas Kiarostami and Martin Scorsese. Moroccan national televi- 
sion has also tried to help improve conditions for Moroccan cinema 
by co-producing films and broadcasting several Moroccan features. 
However, French financial and educational support is still in demand, 
including funding made available by the Fonds Sud Cinema. 

MOTHER OF THE BRIDE (1963). Atef Salem’s classic comedy, an 
insight into Egyptian courtship and marriage practices of the period, 


stars Emad Hamdi and Tahiyya Carioca as, respectively, Hussein 
and Zeinab, who are married with seven children. The humor de- 
rives mainly from the frantic nature of life in the family’s crowded, 
middle -class apartment, established in an opening sequence in which 
each parent is unwilling to get up to face the morning. As the baby 
cries, another child plays the violin, another turns on the radio full- 
blast, and another asks for money, while comic moments and ex- 
pressions are underlined by appropriate music. Hussein frequently 
complains that he has only enough funds to feed his family, but is 
faced with the prospect of finding substantially more when eldest 
daughter Ahlem becomes engaged, and the groom’s family makes 
extravagant demands. 

Deciding to cash in his pension, Hussein is unable to secure the 
funds in time, so must “borrow” money from the safe at his office— a 
guilty act he confides to a trusted co-worker. The film’s climax is the 
wedding celebration, which, despite Hussein’s efforts to conserve, 
is a huge event. Bird’s-eye view and extreme high-angle shots are 
used extensively to depict the flood of guests in the street (watched 
in shock by Hussein from his balcony) filing up the building’s 
central staircase and carousing in the jammed apartment. Upon 
discovering that a policeman is looking for him, Hussein admits his 
“crime” to Zeinab, who asks him, “Did you forget your children?” 
The irony is resolved, however, when Hussein learns he has not been 
betrayed— the policeman is only concerned that a megaphone is in 
use without a permit: Hussein’s co-worker has generously “paid 
back” the “loan” in advance. Returning, elated, to the party, Hussein 
collapses when asked to give his permission for the marriage of his 
second daughter, but accepts when the prospective groom offers to 
help with the finances. The film concludes with a shot of the happy 
family returning home, with Zeinab, who frequently has cursed 
children and child-bearing, evidently pregnant again— a comic but 
disturbing final touch. 

MROUE, RABIH (1967- ). After studying theater at Lebanese Uni- 
versity, Mroue began directing and performing in theatrical dramas 
in the early 1990s as paid of an emergent postwar cultural scene 
in Beirut. Since the late 1990s, his stage work has become more 
oriented around performance art in an effort to maintain audience 


appeal, but the explicit sociopolitical critique of his work has faced 
increasing pressure from the censors. These performances have also 
incorporated video and other multimedia devices in ways that accen- 
tuate the estrangement of postwar society. For instance, Three Post- 
ers (2000), with prominent Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury, employs 
the videocassette recording of a Lebanese Civil War combatant as 
he rehearses his suicide testimonial over three takes. He has also em- 
ployed these critical techniques in an experimental short video. Face 
A / Face B (2001), which utilizes an audio recording Mroue made 
as a child in order to examine the rupture between lived experience 
and mediated representations. In addition to directing animations 
and documentaries for Future TV, Mroue has been a prominent 
actor in the films of Ghassan Salhab and Joana Hadjithomas and 
Khalil Joreige. He appeared in the latters’ film / Want to See (2008), 
alongside Catherine Deneuve as she visits war-torn Lebanon after the 
Hezbollah-Israeli war in 2006. 

MURAD, LAYLA (1918-1995). One of the most recognizable voices 
and faces of the golden era of Egyptian cinema, Murad, born in 
Cairo, performed mostly in light romantic comedy-musicals, fre- 
quently taking the role of an amiable young woman whose somewhat 
naive outlook on life is altered by plot events. Having been raised in 
a musical family (her father, Zaki Murad, was a famous musician and 
singer of the 1920s, and her brother, Munir, was an established com- 
poser in the 1940s), she trained under composer Daoud Hosni before 
she was discovered by Mohamed Abdel Wahab and invited to co- 
star with him in Long Live Love (Mohammad Karim, 1938). Early 
in her career, producers used the name, “Layla,” for her characters 
and included it in a string of film titles in order to attract audiences: 
Layla, Daughter of the Desert (Bahiga Hafez, 1937); Layla, Daugh- 
ter of the Countryside (Togo Mizrahi, 1941); simply Layla (Mizrahi, 
1942); Layla the Bedouin (Hafez, 1944); Layla, Daughter of the Poor 
(Anwar Wagdi, 1945); and Layla, Daughter of the Rich (Wagdi, 
1946). In several films, she acted alongside Naguib El-Rihani and 
Wagdi (to whom she was married from 1945 until 1953), notably 
Flirtation of Girls (Wagdi, 1949). Much was made of Murad’s Jew- 
ish roots, and despite her conversion to Islam in 1946, her career was 
plagued with rumors that she had visited Israel and donated money 


to the Zionist state. She withdrew from public exposure in 1955, ap- 
parently in order to “preserve” her image. Her films and song clips 
remain a mainstay of television and satellite broadcasts in Egypt. 

MUSICALS. This industry genre has borne consistent popularity 
throughout the Middle East, but due to its costliness has not been 
produced widely beyond Egypt, Turkey, and Iran, with occasional 
exceptions in Lebanon ( The First Melody [Mohamed Selmane, 
1957]; Bosta [Philippe Aractingi, 2005]), Israel ( Kazablan [Men- 
achem Golan, 1973]), nonindustrial output from beur cinema (100% 
Arabica [Mahmoud Zemmouri, 1997]), and in Tunisia ( Satin 
Rouge [Raja Amari, 2002]). Musicals have been prime vehicles for 
the promotion and advancement of box office revenues and of stars, 
and usually, but not always, are melodramatic comedies, tending 
even more conspicuously to supply escapist fare and, sometimes, to 
reinforce orientalism. This is true especially of belly dancing films, 
the art of which is criticized for its role as a Western tourist attraction 
in Waiting (Rashid Masharawi, 2005) and revised from a feminist 
perspective in Satin Rouge , yet has been the font of significant movie 
careers (Samia Gamal, Tahiyya Carioca, Souad Hosni, and Hind 
Rustom). Musicals have also served to showcase visually the sing- 
ing voices of theatrical and recording artists, perhaps most famously 
Umm Kulthum, Mohamed Abdel Wahhab, Layla Murad, and 
Abdel Halim Hafez in Egypt, and Fairuz and the Rahbani Broth- 
ers in Lebanon, and Farid al-Atrache in both Egypt and Lebanon, 
as well as Cheb Mami and Khaled in Algeria and the Maghrebi 
diaspora (100% Arabica ), Haim Topol in Israel (Sallach Shabbati 
[Ephraim Kishon, 1964]), and Zeki Miiren, Orhan Gencebay, and 
ibrahim Tathses in Turkey. 

Middle Eastern musicals differ generally from their Hollywood 
counterparts in having adopted and been influenced at an earlier point 
by Indian film industry, Hindi-language (“Bollywood”) musicals, 
such as those featuring Raj Kapoor and Narges— both household 
names in the region during the 1950s. Their poetics have been con- 
sidered redolent of traditional shadow-plays and of Arab-Islamic 
poetry and song for their narratives were never “integrated” structur- 
ally in the Hollywood sense. For similar reasons, Turkish Ye§il?am- 
era musicals have been termed “singer melodramas”; they feature vo- 


calists in lead roles who perform musical numbers in nonintegrated 
sequences similar to early music videos. As in the West, however, 
and with the exception of Turkey, the Middle Eastern musical genre 
lost popularity by the early 1970s, although it underwent a later re- 
surgence, especially in Egypt, both in the form of revisionist vehicles 
directed by Youssef Chahine, among others, and in the incorpora- 
tion of music video aesthetics into youth-oriented, so-called shopping 
mall films. Today, the musical often showcases a syncretism expres- 
sive of the contemporary Middle Eastern diaspora. 

MUSALLAM, IZIDORE K. (1957- ). Musallam has the distinction 
of being the director of what has been billed as Saudi Arabia’s first 
feature film. How’s It Going? (2006)— his fifth directorial feature. 
A resident of Canada who emigrated from Palestine-Israel, Musal- 
lam’ s films traverse national boundaries and explore changing identi- 
ties. The independent film director, writer, and producer was born in 
Haifa and educated in film production at York University in Toronto. 
He worked as a production assistant on several films directed by 
David Cronenberg. His directorial debut. Foreign Nights (1989), ad- 
dresses cultural and generational clashes within the Arab diaspora 
through the story of a Canadian teenage dancer and her traditional 
Palestinian parents. Heaven Before I Die (1997) is a comedy about 
a young man from Palestine who moves to Toronto, receives advice 
from the ghost of Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran (Omar Sharif), and 
finds a job as a Charlie Chaplin imitator. Musallam’ s 2008 short. My 
Simple Story , an allegorical fable scored by Palestinian musician- 
composer Simon Shaheen, was produced for Al-Jazeera Children’s 
Channel and won three gold awards at the 14th Cairo Arab Media 

MUSTAFA, NIAZI (1911-1986). One of the Egypt’s most prolific 
filmmakers, Mustafa was well-versed in film language and not 
confined to any particular genre. He studied film in the Cinema 
Institute in Munich before returning to Egypt to work as assistant 
director to Yussuf Wahbi in 1935. As chief editor of Studio Misr, 
he worked on two films directed by Fritz Kramp, Wedad (1936), 
Umm Kulthum’s cinematic debut, and Lashine, the People’s Hope 
(1939). His directorial debut. Everything Is Fine (1937), starred 


Naguib El-Rihani in a typical prince-and-pauper tale. In The In- 
visibility Cap (1944), starring popular singe Mohamed El Khalawi 
and Tahiyya Carioca, a young mechanic discovers the titular cap, 
using it to help his neighbors and make himself rich. However, he 
realizes that wealth is more trouble than it is worth before waking 
up to discover he has been dreaming all along. The film was a suc- 
cess, apparently due to its depiction of ordinary people, light and 
appealing subject matter, and use of special effects — and it brought 
Mustafa fame. He directed a number of comedy-musical entertain- 
ment vehicles, including Love and Youth (1948), starring Layla 
Murad, and Where Did You Get This From? (1952), with Mohamed 
Fawzy. His Land of Heroes (1953), however, portrays a man who 
goes to Gaza to fight against Zionism in the 1948 Palestine War and 
is blinded by faulty weaponry, while his fascination with landscapes 
led him to make a number of films set in the desert and featuring his 
wife, Kouka (previously his assistant editor), as a Bedouin. Mustafa 
also directed several more commercial films featuring major stars, 
including Souad Hosni and Rushdi Abaza ( Too Young for Love 
[1966]), Fouad El-Mohandis ( The Most Dangerous Man in the 
World [1967]) and Lady Killer [1970]), and Adel Imam (Search for 
a Scandal [1973]). 

MY FATHER AND MY SON (2005). One of the most popular melo- 
dramas of the new cinema of Turkey, this period film directed by 
Cagan Irmak concerns a child whose life changes significantly fol- 
lowing the military intervention of 1980. After the child’s mother 
dies in Istanbul, his father takes him to his own parents’ home in a 
small town near Izmir. Although the film’s sentimental aspects are 
unusual, even surprising for the new cinema of Turkey, its autobio- 
graphical themes and primary focus on male characters align it with 
the works of new cinema of Turkey auteurs Zeki Demirkubuz and 
Nuri Bilge Ceylan. 

- N - 

NACIRI, SAID (1960- ). Known in Morocco and Europe for his co- 
medic one-man shows that include political satire and social critique, 


Said Naciri starred most famously in The Bandits (2003), a film 
about a thief who sets out to impersonate a long-lost brother in order 
to abscond with his fortune. The Bandits is the first Moroccan film 
dubbed in Berber dialect. Naciri, who also produced and starred in 
Hassan Benjelloun’s crowd-pleasing The Pal (2002), received an 
MBA from the United States and studied business in Belgium. Mo- 
roccan audiences seem to appreciate Naciri’s films for their raucous 
mix of physical and verbal gags that caustically scrutinize social 
and political problems, as attested by their high attendance figures 
throughout the country. 

NADERI, AMIR (1947?- ). Naderi was orphaned at the age of eight 
and raised by his aunt in the Iranian port city of Abadan, a place he 
has described as culturally wedding East to West. Largely self-edu- 
cated, Naderi grew up trying to watch as many movies as possible. 
He left home at age 12 for Tehran, where he eventually found work 
as a stills photographer on a film set. His first features, Goodbye 
Friend (1972) and Deadlock (1973), thrillers set in poor suburbs of 
Tehran, were distinct from other genre films of the period for their 
social realist examination of the disorienting, often violent effects 
of rapid urbanization. Naderi followed these pessimistic “street 
films” with the relatively big-budget Tangsir (1973), an adaptation 
of a well-known novel by Sadegh Chuback, featuring Behrouz Vo- 
sooghi. He would subsequently abandon such extravagant filmmak- 
ing, however: Harmonica (1974) and Waiting ( 1975) focus simply on 
children and contain minimal plots; the postrevolutionary Requiem 
(1975) was shot once again in the streets of Tehran; and The Search 
(1980) and The Search Two (1981) both document the human dis- 
placement wrought by the violence of the 1979 Iranian Revolution 
and the Iran-Iraq War. This minimalistic approach helped garner 
wide critical acclaim for Naderi’ s next feature The Runner (1985), 
one of the first Iranian postrevolutionary films to experience success 
at international film festivals. 

Echoing The Runner , Naderi’s ensuing Water, Wind, Dust (1989) 
was dominated by visuals and nearly devoid of dialogue. Upon its 
completion, Naderi emigrated to the United States, where in 1978 
he had made a film about an Iranian emigre. Made in Iran. He has 
since established himself as a distinctively New York filmmaker, as 

292 • NAKBA 

suggested by the titles of his first two postexilic films, Manhattan 
by Numbers (1993) and ABC Manhattan (1997). As in his Iranian 
works, Naderi’s New York films contain characteristically minimal 
dialogue that directs attention across a complex soundscape. Notable 
in this regard is Sound Barrier (2005), the story of a deaf boy who 
attempts to experience his mother’s voice. By the same token, these 
films’ focus on identity and place have led some critics to consider 
them typical of exilic or “accented” cinema. Naderi, however, does 
not consider himself an Iranian filmmaker in exile, simply an inde- 
pendent filmmaker. 

NAKBA. Arabic for “catastrophe,” Nakba denotes the collective Pales- 
tinian experience leading up to and including the establishment of Is- 
rael in 1948. For Palestinians, the Nakba is an important nexus of the 
Palestinian-Israeli conflict, marking the moment of their disposses- 
sion, the loss of their land, and the cause for approximately 750,000 
of them becoming refugees. Interpretation of these events has been 
contentious; however, the collective memory of the Nakba shapes 
Palestinian identity and culture. Even in films that do not explicitly 
concern the event, the Nakba supplies background for contemporary 
Palestinian life. Documentaries describing the 1948 events include 
1948 (Mohammed Bakri, 1998), Quiet Days in Palestine (Fouad El- 
koury, 1998), and Jerusalem 1948: Yaomllak, Yaom Aleik ( Elkoury, 
1998), which contains interviews with Palestinians in refugee camps, 
the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israel, and in the diaspora 
who remember pre-1948 Jerusalem. My Very Private Map (Sobhi 
al-Zobaidi, 1998) and Palestine, a People’s Record (1994) contain 
rare archival footage. Going Home (Omar al-Qattan, 1995), about a 
British officer’s recollection of the British Mandate’s last days, deals 
with the events leading up to the Nakba. Some documentaries focus 
on particular families’ lives post- 1948, such as A Man of Haifa (Dar- 
wish Abu Al-Rish, 2000), a set of personal narratives of elders who 
remained in Haifa; Naim & Wadee’a (Najwa Najjar, 1999), about 
a Palestinian couple in Jaffa; and Tear of Peace (George Musleh, 
2003), which follows a family’s recurrent moves since 1948. The 
Dupes (Tawfik Saleh, 1973), an exploration of Palestinian dispos- 
session; Together We Were Reused (Enas Muthaffar, 1999), a story 
of siblings separated since 1948; and Chronicle of a Disappearance 


(Elia Suleiman, 1996), a meditation on the instability of Palestinian 
identity, are three features explicitly focused on the Nakba’s after- 

The Egyptian experience of these events, usually referred to in 
that country as the Palestine War, is dramatized in Land of Peace 
(Kamal El-Sheikh, 1957), featuring Omar Sharif and Faten 
Hamama, and The Dark Girl of Sinai (Niazi Mustafa, 1959), both 
heroic melodramas. 

NASIRIAN, ALI (1935- ). Nasirian started his career as stage actor, 
later moving into film and television performance. Like fellow theat- 
rical actor Ezzatollah Entezami, Nasirian’ s cinematic breakthrough 
was The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, 1969), a film that launched the 
Iranian New Wave. Nasirian plays the foil to Entezami’s crazed, 
cow-obsessed peasant, as a respected and competent figure to whom 
the townspeople turn for advice. Nasirian appeared in several films 
directed by Mehrjui and established himself as a performer of great 
range, effective in many genres and styles. Nasirian himself wrote 
the script for Mehrjui’s Mr. Naive (1971), a dark comedy with a 
tragic ending about the journey of a simple-minded individual from 
a rural town to complex, disorienting Tehran. Nasirian was one of 
the few stars of the Pahlavi-era film industry allowed to recommence 
work after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. His tour-de-force per- 
formance as the ubiquitous Captain Nemat in Iron Island (Moham- 
mad Rasoulof, 2005) confirms that Nasirian remains a formidable 
cinematic presence. 

NASRALLAH, YOUSRY (1952- ). Bom to a Coptic family in Cairo, 
Nasrallah was educated in economics and political science before 
pursuing work as a film critic in Beirut for the Lebanese newspaper 
As-Safir during the late 1970s. In 1980, he was assistant director to 
New German Cinema director Volker Schlondorff and to Syrian 
director, Omar Amiralay, then for Youssef Chahine on several of 
his films. While working for Chahine, Nasrallah directed a series of 
documentaries. On Boys, Girls and the Veil (1995), for example, 
focuses on an Egyptian family and its views on women, gender, 
and sexuality, and exposes as falsehood the common stereotype that 
wearing a Muslim headscarf ( hijab ) indicates religious intolerance 


and political extremism. After Nasrallah co-scripted Alexandria , 
Again and Forever (Chahine, 1990), Chahine’s Misr International 
Films produced his feature debut. Summer Thefts (1988), a semi- 
autobiographical work that helped jump-start the revival of Egyp- 
tian cinema in the post-Anwar Sadat, post-Cold War period. His 
subsequent features continue to push the social envelope, including 
Mercedes (1993), which explores class difference and homosexual- 
ity, and Gate of the Sun (2003), a multigenerational epic, based on 
the novel by Elias Khoury and featuring star Hiam Abbass, span- 
ning 50 years in the life of a Palestinian family, from the British 
Mandate through the Nakba through exile in Lebanon. Nasrallah’s 
The Aquarium (2008) features Tunisian actress Hend Sabri in a 
postmelodrama of social alienation in contemporary Cairo. 

NASSER, GAMAL ABDEL (1918-1970). Army officer Nasser 
participated in the Free Officers coup that ended the monarchy of 
British-supported King Farouk of Egypt in 1952. Nasser became 
the prime minister of the new republic in 1954, and its president in 
1956, in which role he also became a leading figure in the worldwide 
nonaligned movement and the pan-Arabist movement. Propagat- 
ing a version of Arab socialism that positioned Islam as the official 
religion, Nasser reached out to the Soviet Union, which provided 
support for construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile; he cemented 
his popularity by standing up to the British and French in the Suez 
crisis, as he exerted nationalist claims to control the canal. In 1958, 
Nasser engineered a pan-Arab alliance in which Syria joined with 
Egypt to form the United Arab Republic (U.A.R.); however, this 
pan- Arab formation survived only three years. Meanwhile, domestic 
reforms resulted in improved methods of agriculture and industry, 
some redistribution of wealth, and greater opportunities for most of 
the population. 

Nasser’s prestige was severely dented by the Defeat of 1967, in 
which poorly prepared Arab troops were readily overtaken by supe- 
rior Israeli forces and strategy in the Six-Day War. In its aftermath, 
Nasser offered to resign but was persuaded to stay by popular senti- 
ment. By this point, however, the corruption of public offices at all 
levels was becoming increasingly remarked, and after Nasser’s death 
in 1970, his policies were swiftly reversed by Anwar Sadat, whose 


policy of Inf it ah — the “Open Door” — signalled a realigning of the 
country with the United States and an opening to transnational, 
neoliberal capitalism. 

The Egyptian film industry was reorganized under Nasser, who 
recognized the importance of the aids to the full development of 
human potential. New censorship laws were issued in 1955, and al- 
though they allowed much that had previously been banned, they also 
maintained certain restrictions so that some films were still both tem- 
porarily and permanently disallowed under Nasser. To the surprise of 
many, the industry was largely nationalized in 1962, with Salah Abu 
Seif assuming a leadership role. Although a private industry persisted 
alongside the state-run one, the majority of the period’s most signifi- 
cant films emerged from the public side, which fostered a somewhat 
less commercial, more socially conscious cinema. However, pressure 
remained to produce the more accessible genre films foundational to 
the Egyptian studio system. In some instances, these goals merged 
in what has been dubbed, somewhat paradoxically, “revolutionary 
melodrama” by film scholar Joel Gordon. 

Several films celebrate Nasser as a great leader of the Arabs. 
Youssef Chahine’s Saladin (1963), the Arabic title of which, El 
Nasir Salah El Din (“The Victory of Saladin”) references Nasser’s 
name, compares him to the generous, humane, and wise 12th-century 
leader of the Arab resistance to the Crusaders’ attempts to control 
Jerusalem. Chahine’s subsequent The Earth (1969), considered by 
many critics the greatest of all Egyptian films, allegorizes a peasant 
revolt against Egypt’s feudal agricultural system during the colonial 
period to Nasser’s ascent and political program. The Prisoner of 
Abu Zaabal (Niazi Mustafa, 1957), an action-adventure piece; Port 
Said (Ezzedine Zulficar, 1957), featuring Amina Rizq; and Blazing 
Love (Hassan el-Imam, 1958), a melodrama, offer heroic depictions 
of Egypt’s victory during the Suez crisis. The Sparrow (Chahine, 
1973), however, made shortly after Nasser’s death, is a grim record 
of the failures of Nasser’s rule and the misplaced confidence in its 
military power that had rendered the defeat so shocking to so many 
throughout the Arab world. Significantly, however, Chahine ends 
the film with an Egyptian maternal figure who takes to the streets to 
protest Nasser’s resignation. 


Other post-Nasser films were less ambivalent in their critiques, 
notably two based on novels by Naguib Mahfouz, Adrift on the Nile 
(Hussein Kamal, 1971) and Karnak (Ali Badrakhan, 1975). The 
former offers a moral indictment against lingering patriarchy, bour- 
geois decadence, and public corruption, while the latter confronts 
the worst excesses of a police state, in which spying and torture are 
used to maintain control. It has been seen as the “nail in the coffin” 
of Nasserist cinema and may be contrasted with the mild Rendezvous 
with a Stranger (Atef Salem, 1959), in which a young industrialist’s 
(Omar Sharif) embroilment in scandal is mitigated by a benevolent 
government spy (Samia Gamal) posing as a belly dancer. The 
heroic figure of Nasser was resuscitated decades later in the very 
popular Nasser 56 (Mohamed Fadel, 1996), focused on the events 
leading to the nationalization of the Suez Canal, and featuring star 
Ahmed Zaki, and the much less known Gamal Abdel Nasser (Anwar 
al-Qawadri, 1998). He is once again glorified in the documentary 
Umm Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt (Michal Goldman, 1996), about 
the titular singing star who strongly supported Nasserism and whose 
name came to personify pan-Arabism internationally. 

NASSER, GEORGES (1927- ). Nasser traveled to North America 
during the late 1940s to study architecture, but abandoned this course 
to pursue film studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. 
When he returned to Lebanon, he became one of the early pioneers 
of Lebanese cinema. His first film, Where To? (1957), depicts the so- 
cial rupture that resulted when many Lebanese emigrated in search of 
work: an impoverished Christian peasant leaves for Brazil in search 
of better opportunities, but when he returns after 20 years, his family 
refuses to recognize him. The Little Stranger (1961) concerns three 
prisoners who must find a way to co-exist. Both films premiered 
at the Cannes Film Festival yet failed to secure theatrical release 
in Lebanon. After an influx of Egyptian filmmakers who began 
producing lighthearted fare in Lebanon, Nasser struggled to sell his 
more sobering ideas and thus turned to documentaries and advertis- 
ing films. 

NATIONALISM. The distinct, often divergent, histories and contem- 
porary circumstances of the various countries comprising the Middle 


East have produced a range of ways in which to imagine and define 
national sovereignty, historically a Western concept, in the region— 
although language and religion (Islam) have been prominent in 
most. The borders within much of the Middle East were determined 
by colonialism in the aftermath of World War I and the dismantling 
of the Ottoman Empire. The extent to which nationalist aspirations 
bounded by ethnic or religious interests existed during the years of 
Ottoman rule is disputed. Thus, the country of Iraq was constructed 
by unifying three conjoining former Ottoman administrative prov- 
inces, or vilayets, the most northerly of which, centered on Mosul and 
with a large Kurdish population, evidenced stronger historical ties 
to Aleppo and northern Syria than to Baghdad or Basra. Similarly, 
Lebanon was severed from the rest of Greater Syria. On the other 
hand, Egypt, perhaps the oldest country on the planet, maintained a 
sturdy national integrity throughout the Ottoman era and was largely 
self-governing for much of the 19th century under the rule of Mu- 
hammed Ali. Nationalism was a major force in the battle against 
British neocolonialism in Egypt and against French colonialism in 
the Maghreb during the 20th century. While nationalist sentiment 
in Iran and Turkey harkens to the Persian and Ottoman Empires, 
respectively, in Israel, Jewish statehood was declared on the basis of 
19th-century political Zionism, the adherents of which launched an 
armed struggle against British and Arab forces in the wake of United 
Nations Resolution 181 (the “Partition Plan”), and has entailed strict 
delimitation of Palestinian national claims and self-determination. In 
Western Sahara, nationalism persists as an ideology integral to the 
ongoing liberation struggle against neocolonial rule by Morocco. 

As with all national cinemas, the idea of the nation has been 
prominent in the films of the Middle East, while the cinema itself 
has helped to create dominant images of the nation and the national 
in the countries of the region. Just as a common language, linked 
to a common religion— and at times to strong pan-Arabist senti- 
ment— has unified much of the Arab world, Egypt’s studio system 
has historically provided a unifying cinematic reference point for the 
Arab countries and made the Cairene dialect a veritable lingua franca 
among Arabic speakers. The first Egyptian studio established was 
Studio Misr— the Arabic word for “Egypt”— envisaged by its insti- 
gator Taleb Harb as a facility to make “Egyptian films with Egyptian 


subjects.” In addition to genre movies with strong appeal to the re- 
gion as a whole, many Egyptian films, frequently adapting national 
literary classics, have celebrated the country itself or have focused 
on ancient Egypt’s Pharaonic past, sometimes in ways that enable 
implicit critiques of present circumstances. The Night of Counting 
the Years (Shadi Abdel-Salam, 1968) is perhaps the best-known 
example of the latter; Adrift on the Nile (Hussein Kamal, 1971) is 
another instance in which attitudes toward the past— both Pharaonic 
and neocolonial— are shown implicitly to betray the corruption of the 
present, and thus as damaging to the nation. 

Ye§il<;am, an all-encompassing, structurally limiting frame of 
filmmaking in Turkey, often inscribed the Republican ideology of 
a single nationality and language in the country, sparking “true” 
national cinema debates there, whereas Iranian cinema, both before 
and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, celebrated the nation, first 
as the continuation of an ancient empire personified by the Shah (as 
in films by Abdolhossein Sepanta, Esmail Kushan— whose film stu- 
dio was named Pars, again a reference to the name of the country — 
and Majid Mohseni), then, especially in Sacred Defense films, as a 
country unified by its Shi'i faith. 

Israeli cinema was founded and built upon Zionist films that laid 
ancient, religion-based claims to the land upon which the Jewish state 
was established— although some Israeli cinema is not uncritical of 
Jewish nationalism and nation-building strategies, including the sub- 
stantial body of work by Amos Gitai, the films of Ra’anan Alexan- 
drowicz, Avi Mograbi, and Yuli Cohen Gerstel, and some works of 
the Young Israeli Cinema. Meanwhile, Palestinian cinema has been 
characterized by an exilic and diasporic aesthetic that represents the 
difficulties of life under Israeli occupation, apparent in the stories, 
mise-en-scenes, and narrative structures of works by Michel Khleifi, 
Elia Suleiman, Rashid Masharawi, and Hany Abu-Assad, and by 
the earlier Palestinian Revolution Cinema. Lebanese cinema has 
also been connected intimately to attempts to understand a fractured 
nation, especially in the relatively experimental and pseudo-docu- 
mentary work of Walid Raad, Jocelyn Saab, Akram Zaatari, and 
Lamia Joreige that has appeared in the aftermath of the Lebanese 
Civil War. 


Algerian cinema, beginning in the cauldron of the liberation war 
against France, was strongly nationalistic in the years following in- 
dependence, with the great majority of films focused on the struggle. 
The aim of this cinema— which was almost completely controlled by 
the new state — was to celebrate the nation and thus to help determine 
its popular following. This tendency reached its peak, perhaps, in the 
costly national epic. Chronicle of the Years of Embers (Moham- 
med Lakhdar-Hamina, 1975), after which Algerian cinema began 
to address internal social problems (in, for instance, Omar Gatlato 
[Merzak Allouache, 1976]), which fostered more critical view- 
points— a practice typical of auteurist and realist films throughout 
the Maghreb. (The same pattern is exemplified by the change in per- 
spective traceable across the Syrian films of Omar Amiralay.) The 
achieving of independence has also been an important, although not 
so all-encompassing, theme in Tunisian and Moroccan cinema. One 
of the most widely distributed works in Tunisia, The Silences of the 
Palace (Moufida Tlatli, 1994), matches the arrival of independence 
with a critique of continuing patriarchy in the new nation. Moroccan 
cinema— which has been characterized historically by a division be- 
tween less popular, more critically conscious and realist works, and 
Egyptian-style melodramas — has recently made successful appeals 
to its domestic audiences with home-grown, hybrid fare enabled by 
neoliberal governmental reforms, thus becoming a rare example of a 
small Middle Eastern national cinema with a sizeable market share 
at home. 

Nevertheless, here and throughout the region, foreign, usually 
European, support remains crucial to continued cinematic output. 
Several films produced under these conditions, such as A Summer 
in La Goulette (Ferid Boughedir, 1995), have been criticized for 
presenting idealized, exoticized, perhaps orientalizing, images of 
Middle Eastern nations aimed at Western audiences. In any case, 
the cinema of recent decades has been as much transnational as na- 
tional. Indeed, this is arguably true in great part from the earliest days 
of Middle Eastern cinema, with immigrants and ethnic minorities 
playing important roles on both sides of the camera. The Egyptian 
film industry, for example, has consistently employed Lebanese tal- 
ent, while, conversely, many Egyptians worked in the Beirut-based 


Lebanese industry when the Egyptian industry was nationalized by 
Gamal Abdel Nasser. More recently, Saudi investment in Egyptian 
cinema has influenced the development of a more conservative style. 
The rise of ethnic identity claims and the increasing integration of 
individual countries into the processes of globalization since the 
1980s have complicated the representation of nation in cinema. In 
the Turkish diaspora, for example, migrant Euro-Turk or Euro-Kurd 
filmmakers are producing films, while ethnic minorities within Tur- 
key, especially Kurds — also increasingly active in the long-stalled 
cinema in Iraq— are producing films in their own languages and often 
for their regional markets. 

More recent and emerging players within Middle Eastern cinema 
include Jordan, which is attempting to create a national cinema 
reputation and to attract filmmakers from elsewhere, and, to some 
extent, Yemen. Iranian cinema, meanwhile— in the work of Abbas 
Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and his daughter Samira, Jafar 
Panahi, and others — has frequently been celebrated in the West since 
the beginning of the 1990s as a cultural ambassador for a “pariah” 
nation, paradoxically representing the “authentic but hidden” Iran of 
tolerance and creativity stifled by the current Islamic government. 

NATION IS AWAKENING, A (1932). An early realist drama adapted 
by Turkish director Muhsin Ertugrul from a novel about the Turk- 
ish War of Independence (1919-23), A Nation Is Awakening is typi- 
cal of the nationalist genre in Turkey, in which heroic soldiers are 
portrayed fighting against foreign invaders, as well as against per- 
ceived internal enemies— religious and feudal forces positioned as 
impediments to Republican ideology’s pro-Western modernization 
program. In this film, an educated and enlightened captain, whose 
character represents the Republican elite, and his assistant, a whole- 
some and honest Anatolian, representative of the masses, struggle 
together against local forces who collaborate with Greece in Izmir 
prior to the Turkish victory in that city. 

NESHAT, SHIRIN (1957- ). Neshat is an Iranian-born American 
visual artist living in New York City whose photographs and video 
installations explore the position of Iranian and other women in 
Islamic societies. Her controversial photo series, Women of Allah 


(1993-1997), with its photographs of veiled and armed women, has 
been alternately praised for its daring subversion of the powerless- 
ness of Muslim women and berated as another orientalist fantasy 
about women’s position in Islam. Neshat’s Turbulent (1998), Rap- 
ture (1999), and Fervour (2000) are video installations in which the 
spectator stands between or to the side of two screens that face each 
other, as they enact the segregated gender dynamic in contemporary 
Iran. In 2001-2002, Neshat collaborated with singer Sussan Deyhim, 
writer Shoja Azari, and cinematographer Ghasem Ebrahimian to cre- 
ate Logic of the Birds , a simultaneously live and filmed image-music- 
text performance based on the 12th-century Conference of Birds by 
Persian mystic Farid-ud-din Attar. 

Since 2003, Neshat has been creating video installations inspired 
by the Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel, Women without 
Men , set at the time of the coup against Mohammad Mosaddeq, about 
five women in 1950s Iran seeking personal freedom and self-defini- 
tion inside a society that thwarts their quest for identity. Mahdokht 
(2003) and Zarin (2005) explore the sexual repression of women, 
Munis (2008) political activism, and Faezeh (2008) rape and mad- 
ness. The final piece, Farokh Legha (2008), takes a more realist look 
at foreclosed possibilities for change. The videos are projected onto 
a single screen in gallery space in Cinemascope format with life- 
size characters that force viewers to interact with them viscerally. A 
more narrative-driven, feature-length version of Women without Men 
(2009), shot largely in the same Moroccan locations and using the 
same cast, netted the Best Director Silver Lion for Neshat at the 2009 
Venice Film Festival. 

“TURKISH” CINEMA). A recent concept, “new cinema of Tur- 
key” has been theorized as a loosely connected wave of Turkish 
filmmaking surmised variously by critics to cover an overlapping 
set of periods: 1963-1980, following the 1960 military intervention 
and subsequent constitution, which occasionally has been credited 
with opening space for realist filmmaking by indigenous Turkish 
directors; 1970-1987, during which new or young filmmakers pro- 
duced films outside Turkey’s commercial film industry, Ye§il<;am; 
1987-1997, when a “new generation” of Turkish directors suppos- 


edly emerged; or the 1990s, following the demise of Ycsilcam as a 
popular Turkish filmmaking practice characterized by a variety of 
discursive and narrative approaches. 

Unlike Ycsilcam cinema, new cinema of Turkey marks a distinc- 
tion between popular cinema and art (or, auteur) cinema. Whereas 
Ycsilcam was an all-inclusive, encapsulating cinema, the period 
marked by the new cinema of Turkey maintains a relative separa- 
tion of production, distribution, and exhibition networks for popular 
films. New cinema of Turkey bridged structural disjunctures between 
Western and Middle Eastern cinemas as Turkish directors began 
producing visually sophisticated works, often utilizing new digital 
media technologies made available by neoliberal globalization. New 
Turkish filmmakers were formally educated at film schools and 
represented a younger generation, mostly from the middle and upper 
classes. Theirs is an increasingly postindustrial filmmaking that has 
entailed international and televisual collaborations and novel produc- 
tion strategies such as niche marketing, sponsorship deals, public 
support schemes, and film festivals. This structural configuration has 
invited critical attention for the relative distance it maintains from 
commercial and political influences. 

Egkiya (1996), directed by Yavuz Turgul, is often considered the 
first hit film of the post-Yesilcam period. It attracted audiences of 
more than two million and prompted much speculation about the 
reemergence of a domestic film industry following two decades of 
stagnation. Eykiya marked the beginning of unprecedented popular- 
ity for Turkish films, which started to draw domestic audiences of 
between one and four million. By 2001, these developments would 
culminate in market domination by domestically produced popular 
films. On the other hand, Turkish art films have become available to 
audiences at film festivals worldwide, where Turkish auteurs such 
as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ycsim Ustaoglu, Zeki Demirkubuz, Fatih 
Akin, and Ferzan Ozpetek have been recognized. 

In addition to, and notwithstanding its success and volume, new cin- 
ema of Turkey has begun the difficult process of representing alterna- 
tive conceptions of ethnicity, gender and sexuality, nationality, and 
race to those projected for many years by Ycsilcam films. To its credit, 
it has tried to problematize assimilationist discourses by acknowledg- 
ing differences and evolving identities, especially in films directed 


by diasporic Turks such as Akin and Ozpetek, and in films made in 
Kurdish, as well as other minority languages. See also BANDIT, THE; 

NEW DAY IN OLD SANA’A, A (2005). A New Day in Old Sana’a is 
the first feature film from Yemen, a country without a film indus- 
try or film school. Directed by Bader Ben Hirsi and produced by 
Ahmed Al-Abdali, both British-born of Yemeni descent, the film 
tells the story of a star-crossed romance between an aristocratic 
young photographer’s assistant, Tariq, betrothed to a woman of his 
class, and Ines, an orphan who makes her living as a nagsh (henna 
tattoo) artist. Tariq falls instantly in love with a mysterious, eccentric 
woman— who turns out to be Ines— when he accidentally glimpses 
her on the street at night wearing the beautiful white dress he had 
given his fiancee. Meanwhile, the photographer, Federico, is a Euro- 
pean expatriate who makes his home in Sana’a and has an apparently 
compulsive, perhaps voyeuristic, desire to photograph the women of 
the town. Filmed entirely on location in Old City Sana’a’s winding 
streets, gardens, and tower houses by an international cast and crew, 
the film combines a fairy tale tone with everyday situations and mo- 
ments of comic levity. While deliberately avoiding heavy sociologi- 
cal commentary, it effectively touches upon gender and class roles 
in public and private spaces. See also WOMEN. 

NEW REALISM. During the 1980s, a group of Egyptian filmmakers 
who focused on social and political issues became known as the New 
Realists, rejecting the apolitical stance of commercial films and seek- 
ing to (re)establish a more artistic and intellectual approach to the 
medium. The most distinguished directors of this movement, Daoud 
Abdel Sayed, Khairy Beshara, Mohamed Khan, and Atef El- 
Tayeb, drew their themes from social and political conflicts related 
to the corruption, greed, and materialism that emerged as a conse- 
quence of the Infitah—“ Open Door” policy — launched by Anwar 
Sadat’s government in the 1970s. New Realists emphasized location 
shooting and the depiction of marginal characters in working-class 
settings. However their films rarely broke with mainstream conven- 
tions of narrative structure and cinematic style, making full use of the 


star system and dramatic plots. Unlike their commercial equivalents 
that usually ended happily or hopefully, however, New Realist films 
resisted depicting the attainment of justice, as oppressed characters 
were thwarted by the reality of their circumstance and the heartless- 
ness of corrupt powers. Performers most representative of New 
Realist characters are Nur El-Sherif, Ahmed Zaki, and Mahmoud 
Abdel-Aziz. The New Realist heroes they played were frequently 
young, rebellious, and valiant (while their women were decked out 
in the most glaring 1980s fashions), and they faced social oppression 
and/or political corruption. More recently, some members of the New 
Realist movement have begun experimenting with digital filmmak- 
ing. See also REALISM. 


(1959). This classic of the Egyptian cinema was directed by Henri 
Barakat and based on the novella by Taha Hussein. The film tells 
the story of two sisters who are expelled from their village and 
compelled to work as domestic servants in the city. Amna (Faten 
Hamama) is placed with a middle-class family, taught how to read, 
and becomes more cultured, while Hanadi (Zahrat El-Ola) works for 
a lecherous engineer (Ahmed Mazhar). When it is discovered that 
Hanadi was seduced by the engineer, she is killed by her uncle, who 
claims he must uphold the family’s honor. Amna seeks revenge by 
moving in as the new servant to the engineer and enticing him to fall 
in love with her, with the aim of tormenting him with desire. The 
engineer realizes he is now truly in love, however, and Amna’s heart 
begins to soften. The film ends dramatically with the two embracing, 
as the uncle, lurking in the bushes, shoots at Amna but accidentally 
kills the engineer instead. The film is a classic example of Barakat’ s 
melodramatic and lyrical style, expressed in sound through Hama- 
ma’s anguished voice-over narration, and in the call of the curlew, 
heard at pivotal moments throughout the story. See also GENDER 

(1968). In this film, his only feature, Shadi Abdel-Salam explores 


Egyptian national identity through the connection between modern 
and ancient Pharaonic Egypt. Set in 1881, it is the story of Wanis, 
the youngest son of Selim, chief of the Horbat tribe, who, after the 
death of his father, is told, along with his brother, the whereabouts 
of a tomb hidden in the mountains, which members of the tribe have 
been robbing and living off for generations. Wanis’ brother is out- 
raged and refuses to continue the trade. As a result, he is disowned 
by his mother and later murdered for disobeying the tribe elders. 
Carrying the burden of the secret, Wanis is left to grapple with 
the choice of continuing to trade illegally or to tell archaeologists 
from Cairo the whereabouts of the tomb. With dialogue in classical 
literary Arabic ( Fushci ) and a style strongly influenced by Italian 
neorealism, the film was largely inaccessible to mainstream audi- 
ences. The story raises questions of death, memory, knowledge, 
trade, and progress, capturing a vision of an Egypt fragmented by 
geography and class. Wanis finally decides to betray the tribe’s se- 
cret rather than continue to live off the dead. Thus, state ownership 
of Egypt’s national heritage is brought about at the expense of the 
tribe’s future. A newly restored version of The Night of Counting 
the Years was shown in the “Classics” section of the 2009 Cannes 
Film Festival. 

NIGHTS OF THE JACKAL (1989). Set in 1967 near Lattakia, Syria 
just prior to the Six-Day War with Israel, Abdullatif Abdul- 
Hamid’s first narrative feature self-consciously allegorizes the 
authoritarian structure of a rural peasant family to Syria’s national 
situation. Abu Kamel, the patriarch, is physically abusive toward his 
wife, Moti’an, and five children, and resentful of his eldest son, who, 
having pursued higher education in Damascus, has learned modern 
values, including free love and political choice. Yet for all his brute 
strength, Abu Kamel cannot approximate his wife’s magical, shrill 
whistle — the only means they possess with which to stave off noisy, 
predatory hyenas in the night— and she is able to use this power to 
moderate his behavior. Abu Kamel’s second son joins the army to 
fight against the impending Israeli attack. Whereas this turn is a mat- 
ter of pride for Abu Kamel, it also brings anxiety that peaks when 
his son is killed in battle by film’s end, marking a personal defeat 
that reverberates across the whole village. The film utilizes montage 


effectively and punctuates the action with zooms in order to depict 
rural life as anything but pastoral. 

NOURY, HAKIM (1952- ). Noury studied drama at the Conservatoire 
national d’art dramatique in Morocco and in 1971 became the assis- 
tant director to Souheil Ben Barka until becoming a director in his 
own right in 1980. Although 10 years passed after he made The Post- 
man (1979), Noury became the most prolific Moroccan filmmaker 
of the 1990s, directing a stream of popular comedies and realist 
melodramas, some with social resonances. The most notable are The 
Hammer and the Anvil (1990), which tackles the difficulty of obtain- 
ing pensions; Stolen Childhood (1994), an investigation of the plight 
of child maids; The Dream Thief (1995); A Simple News Item (1997); 
Destiny of a Woman (1998); the popular comedy She Is Diabetic and 
Hypertensive and She Refuses to Die (2000); and its sequel She Is 
Diabetic and Hypertensive and Still Refuses to Die (2005). 

NOUREDDINE, WAEL (1978- ). A professional journalist with 
training in French film schools, Noureddine offers an unconventional 
approach that has gained notoriety in Lebanon and France. At Home 
in Beirut (2002), Ce sera beau: From Beirut with Love (2005), and 
July Trip (2006) comprise a trilogy of documentaries that engage 
both sensationalized and overlooked aspects of Lebanese society. By 
utilizing suspense devices to fill mundane moments with nervous an- 
ticipation, these films grapple with sensitive issues like the heroism 
of militiamen and the hopelessness of heroin addiction. 

- O - 



state established a film production organization, the OAA. It was di- 
rected by Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina (1963-1974), and by 1965, 
it had produced two features, A Peace So Young (Jacques Charby, 


1965) and The Dawn of the Damned (Ahmed Rachedi, 1965). The 
OAA’s focus eventually shifted from newsreel production to short 
documentaries, and then to fictional features. In 1974, the organiza- 
tion was integrated into the Office national pour le commerce et 
l’industrie cinematographiques. 

Centre national du cinema and Institut national du cinema were 
dissolved, and the ONCIC was established. This new, umbrella orga- 
nization was charged with film production and, by 1969, distribution 
and exhibition as well, as privately owned theaters were turned over 
to the state. In 1974, distributors staged an unsuccessful boycott to 
protest this move. 1974 also saw the integration of the Office des 
actualites Algeriennes into the ONCIC, which thereafter would 
produce almost all the feature films made in Algeria until 1984, the 
year of its dissolution. The organization also controlled importation, 
censorship, access to the cinematic professions, and the allocation of 
state funds for production. ONCIC filmmakers were state employees 
paid on a monthly basis. 

Throughout the 1970s, the ONCIC allocated its considerable re- 
sources to co-productions with France and Italy; these include three 
important films directed by Egyptian auteur Youssef Chahine: The 
Sparrow (1973), a musical concerning the 1967 Defeat; The Return 
of the Prodigal Son (1976); and the first of Chahine’s autobiographi- 
cal Alexandria trilogy/quartet, Alexandria, Why? (1978). ONCIC’s 
focus, however, remained on films that depicted the Algerian antico- 
lonial struggle, the most renowned of which was Chronicle of the 
Years of Embers (Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, 1975). These rela- 
tively expensive productions diverted state monies from less presti- 
gious and indigenous projects, for which the organization received 
criticism from within Algerian filmmaking circles. 

The Algerian state film apparatus of the 1970s was renovated in 
1984, when the ONCIC was divided into two, separate organiza- 
tions: the Entreprise nationale de production cinematographique 
(ENAPROC), responsible for production; and the Entreprise 
nationale de distribution et d ’exploitation cinematographiques 


(ENADEC), responsible for distribution and exhibition. November 
1987 saw further reorganization, when the Centre Algerien pour 
Part et l’industrie cinematographiques replaced both ENAPROC 
and ENADEC. 

OHANIAN, AVANES (1887[?]-1961). Ohanian was an Arme- 
nian-Iranian who spoke little Persian and spent much of his life in 
Russia, where he studied cinema before attempting to make films in 
Armenia. He came to Iran in 1925 to set up a small film school, using 
his graduates as actors in two features, Abi and Rabi (1930) and Haji 
Agha, Cinema Actor (1932). The former, the first feature-length film 
made in the country, was a knockabout comedy based on a popular 
Danish model, Pat and Paterson, which paired a tall man and a short 
man and was well-known in Iran. Ohanian’s film made money, but 
no copies are known to exist today. Haji, Agha, less successful at the 
time, has provoked contemporary interest. A religious man opposed 
to cinema is secretly filmed, but upon seeing the footage, he agrees 
that cinema is a good thing. 

The film thus initiates important turns in Iranian cinema: its self- 
reflexivity anticipates the postrevolutionary art film; and, more im- 
mediately, it engages the debate between modernity, represented by 
the cinema, and traditional religious attitudes — and clearly sides with 
the former, thus reflecting the ideals of the Pahlavi agenda. Indeed, the 
film’s Persian title, Haji Agha, Actor-e Cinema, encapsulates this con- 
flict, pairing the honorific term for the believer who has made pilgrim- 
age to Mecca with the English terms that denote film and modernity. 
Failing to gamer government support for his fledgling film school, 
Ohanian left Iran for India, where he tried unsuccessfully to make 
films on the model established by Abdolhossein Sepanta. Another 
attempt to reenter cinema in Iran after World War II also failed. 

OKTEN, ZEKI (1941- ). After trying his luck as a theatrical actor, 
Istanbul-born Okten served as an assistant director in Turkey, then 
made his first film. Market of Death, in 1963. After continuing as- 
sistant director work for another decade, apparently on account of his 
negative self-estimation of his own directorial abilities, he returned to 
directing in 1972 and made several comedies and dramas. His The 
Herd (1978), written by Yilmaz Giincy, brought Okten international 


acclaim, including the best film award at the 1979 Locarno Film Fes- 
tival. During the 1980s, he directed a series of realist and comedy 
dramas centered upon male protagonists who face various difficul- 
ties. Among his more recent films is Good-bye (1999), a comedy 
about five long-time friends who rob a bank in order to help one of 
the gang reunite with his long-lost lover in Cuba. 

OLGAg, BILGE (1940-1994). The most prolific female director of 
Ye§il^am, 01ga§, born in Vize, Turkey, started out writing short 
stories while serving as an assistant director in 1962. She directed 
her first films in 1965. The sex-film wave of the 1970s and the 
military intervention of 1980 compelled a decade-long break in 
her career. Upon its resumption, she departed from her prior work 
in the action-adventure genre to direct a series of social issue films 
concerning the problems faced by rural women attempting to chal- 
lenge patriarchal tradition. These include The Spoon Haters ( 1985), a 
dramatic story of what happens to a village and its customs following 
an accident in which many of its women and children are killed; and 
Silky (1987), the grim story of a prostitute who moves to a village 
to escape her past. Olgac continued making films until her untimely 
death in a fire. 

OMAR GATLATO (1976). This first feature by Merzak Allouache, 
edited by Moufida Tlatli, with script work from Yamina Bachir- 
Chouikh, marks a historical turning point in Algerian cinema from 
immediate postliberation films concerning the war for independence 
and social change ( cinema moujahid ) to later films that analyze 
Algeria’s contemporary social complexities ( cinema djidid). Omar, a 
resident of Bab el-Oued, the poor, largely Jewish and Christian quar- 
ter of Algiers, is passionate about music and intrigued by women. 
He is accidentally given an audiotape on which has been recorded 
the voice of a woman expressing her personal feelings. Omar falls in 
love with the voice and sets off to find the actual woman. 

Because of his machismo, however, he is unable to meet success- 
fully with her. Omar recounts his search for the woman through a 
seemingly confident direct address, while an ironic camera reveals a 
different story, as it suggests an underlying misogyny and psycholog- 
ical insecurity common to young Algerian men in this marginalized 

310 • ONAL, SAFA 

and segregated environment. The film’s utilization of local dialects 
and other techniques reminiscent of neorealism facilitate this alle- 
gorical construction. “ Omar Gatlato” also refers to the expression, 
“qatlatu al-rudjila” — “ m ac h i s m o killed him.” 

ONAL, SAFA (1931- ). In 1952, after writing short stories and edit- 
ing a magazine, Istanbul-born Onal began his screenwriting career, 
and continues to write and direct for Turkish television. In 2005, he 
was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records with 395 
screenplays to his name. Among them. My Prostitute Love (Liitfi O. 
Akad, 1968) stands out as a story of star-crossed love. Like his con- 
temporary, Biilent Oran, he wrote a great many generically diverse 
screenplays. He has directed more than 20 melodramas, including 
Until Death (1970) and The Novel of a Young Girl (1971). 

ONCE UPON A TIME, BEIRUT (1995). Jocelyn Saab’s experimen- 
tal narrative follows two young women, Yasmine and Leila, on a 
cinematic journey through Beirut, Lebanon. The film opens with 
a taxi driving through Beirut’s postwar city streets, enveloped by 
bombed-out buildings. In this devastated landscape, the two blind- 
folded women are transported into the depths of a forgotten movie 
theater, where they meet Mr. Farouk, a projectionist who is identified 
as the living memory of Beirut. Culling from hundreds of films, Saab 
highlights the cliches that proliferated during the prewar era. From 
temptresses to spies to villains, Beirut was envisaged as a playground 
of consistently fantastic narratives. The film’s protagonists have an 
uncanny ability to move between Mr. Farouk’s theater and the films 
we presume they are watching. By disavowing the diegetic boundar- 
ies between the referenced films and Once Upon a Time, Beirut, Saab 
not only challenges the truthfulness of history, but creates a space in 
which traumatic memories may be revisited and reexperienced seri- 
ously. See also LEBANESE CIVIL WAR. 

1001 HANDS (1972). Hailed as a rare example of Moroccan Third 
Cinema, Souheil Ben Barka’s first feature film examines the ex- 
ploitation of working-class artisans in Morocco while contrasting 
their poverty with the opulent wealth of a factory owner. Ben Barka 
depicts the material and moral misery of the dye and carpet shops of 


Marrakech. Two families of Moroccan rug-makers are contrasted, as 
the poor family makes its living in the rich family’s factory by dyeing 
the wool used to make rugs for sale abroad and to European tourists. 
When a dyer is injured in an industrial accident at the carpet factory, 
no protection or support is supplied by the factory owner, and the 
family is left destitute. See also HYENAS’ SUN. 

OPIUM AND THE BATON, THE (1969). Directed by Ahmed 
Rachedi and adapted from the novel by Kabyle (Algerian Berber) 
writer Mouloud Mammeri, this film concerns the Algerian war of 
liberation against French colonialism of the late 1950s, and its sub- 
version of family unity. Filmed frequently with long, graphic shots 
of battle scenes, it is somewhat reminiscent of the Hollywood war 
genre. In a Kabyle mountain village, the violence of the French oc- 
cupying army compels many of the otherwise peaceful, conservative 
villagers to lend sympathy and support to the Front de Liberation 
Nationale (FLN), while others choose to collaborate with the colo- 
nizers. After a French captain has ordered the village homes raided, 
its olive groves destroyed, and many of its women and children ex- 
ecuted, and throws an FLN soldier from a helicopter, the revolution- 
aries are also joined by a French soldier, who not only defects to the 
Algerian side but helps another FLN captive escape. 

ORAN, BULENT (1924-2004). Oran, from Istanbul, studied law and 
art history before becoming a humorist for newspapers and maga- 
zines in Turkey. He began work in the film industry as an actor and 
screenwriter. In addition to playing a lead role in Dracula in Istanbul 
(Mehmet Muhtar, 1953), he acted in about 60 films. Adopting the 
nickname the “hired gun,” Oran, along with Safa Onal, was also one 
of Ye§il<jam’s most prolific screenwriters. His films are generically 
diverse but contain melodramatic tropes and surrealistic plot devices 
by which, for example, blind or disabled protagonists are cured mi- 
raculously, enabling happy endings, as in Lovers Don’t Die (1970) 
and A Time to Love and Die (1971). 

ORIENTALISM. This term originally designated a Western field 
of academic study founded during the early 19th century within 
industrializing European nation-states engaged in colonialism. The 


aim of Oriental Studies was to provide scientific justification for 
longstanding attempts by countries such as France, Britain, and the 
Netherlands to rationalize and justify, through claims to Western 
superiority, their exploitation of biogeographical regions denoted 
by the term Orient , meaning literally “the East” and, figuratively, 
south central and southeast Asia. This aim was achieved through the 
construction and implementation of a system of classification under 
which the varied characteristics of “oriental” peoples and societies 
could be categorized, thus facilitating the propagation of reductive, 
often universalizing descriptions and understandings of cultural 
(especially religious) practices and beliefs. It also provided coloniz- 
ers the specific knowledge necessary to their military conquest and 
administrative control of these regions. Orientalist classification was 
usually grounded in pseudoscientific theories of racialist organicism, 
for which cultural development is thought overdetermined by physi- 
cal environment, namely terrain and climate (hence the meaning of 
the verb, “to orient,” which denotes the ascertaining of one’s bearings 
by acquaintanceship with one’s surroundings), with colder, flatter 
environments deemed better suited to genealogical “progress” and 

By the late 19th century, this schema, now a cornerstone of West- 
ern anthropology and sociology, was applied to Africa and the Mid- 
dle East. Abstract and prejudicial notions proliferated across Europe, 
distorting the historical facts of Persian, Arab, Turkish, and Berber 
civilizations, among others, referring to their periods of development 
and prominence as “Dark Ages,” and appropriating many of their 
philosophical, legal, mathematical, medical, and artistic discoveries 
and practices while denigrating Islam. 

Orientalism was the predominant discourse of early and colonial- 
era Middle Eastern cinema, by which Europeans such as the Lumiere 
brothers, Felix Mesguich, Julien Duvivier, and other early filmmakers 
projected exotic locales and character types, thus promoting support 
for colonialism at home and assimilation abroad among indigenous 
peoples. Hollywood cinema (for example, films starring Rudolph 
Valentino) and commercial European cinema (for example, Cabiria 
[Giovanni Pastrone, 1914]) also partook of this discourse, as docu- 
mented in Hollywood Harems (Tanya Kamal-Eldin, 1999), Planet 
of the Arabs (Jacqueline Salloum, 2003), and Reel Bad Arabs (Sut 


Jhally, 2006), as did the film industries of Egypt and, eventually, 
Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq. The practice has continued throughout 
the postcolonial era, with Hollywood productions such as Exodus 
(Otto Preminger, 1960), Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978), The 
Delta Force (Menachem Golan, 1986), and Not without My Daugh- 
ter (Brian Gilbert, 1991) standing as exemplary instances. 

Contemporary Middle Eastern cinema is also not without its ori- 
entalist tendencies: in commercial genres such as bourekas films in 
Israel, sex comedies in Turkey, and musicals and belly dancing 
films in Egypt and elsewhere, and also in auteurist works such as 
those of Nacer Khemir, Hanna Elias ( The Mountain [1991]; The 
Olive Harvest [2003]), Bourlem Guerdjou, Mehdi Charef, and 
Ferzan Ozpetek— although some of these could also be read as cri- 
tiques of the practice. For example, the way in which many of Abbas 
Kiarostami’s best-known films, such as those in the Koker Trilogy, 
have been shot in remote rural areas of Iran has provoked critiques 
that his is an orientalizing gaze; however, it has also been seen as a 
means of deconstructing just such an approach. 

Orientalism in film, literary, and cultural studies, as well as in the 
cinema itself, has been challenged by numerous scholars, including 
Edward Said, Fuad Sha’ban ( Islam and Arabs in Early American 
Thought: The Roots of Orientalism in America [1991]), Ella Shohat, 
Jack Shaheen ( Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People 
[2001; 2009]), and Tim Jon Semmerling {“Evil” Arabs in American 
Popular Film: Orientalist Fear [2006]), and has consistently been 
foregrounded, criticized, and deconstructed by Middle Eastern films. 
Indeed, cinema would appear ideally suited to this sort of critique: 
its dominant institutional and narrative -compositional structures 
have not only accorded historically with the rationalist abstraction, 
reversal, and projection deployed within orientalism, but also sup- 
ply means and techniques to facilitate their subversion. Examples 
of Middle Eastern cinema that are critical of orientalism are many 
and span the generic spectrum. Noteworthy are documentaries and 
avant-garde works by Assia Djebar, Jayce Salloum, Forough Far- 
rokhzad, Belkacem Hadjadj, Jocelyn Saab, Walid Ra’ad, Lamia 
Joreige, and Akram Zaatari; and features by Rashid Masharawi, 
Youssef Chahine, Elia Suleiman, Mohamed Chouikh, Moham- 
mad Malas, and Palestinian filmmaker Sobhi al-Zobaidi. 


Contemporary discourses of multiculturalism, ostensibly opposed 
to orientalist modes of thought, have sometimes been seen as in fact 
incorporating the discourse. Cinematic critiques of this appropria- 
tion have been slow to emerge but are characteristic of exilic and 
diasporic films such as those directed by Annemarie Jacir and by 
many beur filmmakers. 

OSLO ACCORDS. These formal declarations, signed between Israel 
and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in September 1993, 
marked their first negotiations since the establishment of Israel, in 
which each side officially recognized the other’s existence. Final- 
ized in Oslo, Norway, after having been secretly undertaken without 
United States involvement, then signed in a public ceremony on the 
White House lawn by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO 
Chairman Yasser Arafat, the Accords established the Palestinian 
Authority as the official government of the West Bank and Gaza 
Strip, thus allowing the exiled PLO to “return” and officially ending 
the Israeli Occupation. However, the Accords crucially left impor- 
tant issues, such as Palestinian refugees’ right of return, the status of 
Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, and borders (collectively termed “final 
status” issues) for future, unspecified negotiations. 

The Oslo Accords allowed Palestinians to set up their own institu- 
tions and enabled filmmakers access to national funds and an ability 
to shoot on location more readily. They also foregrounded the fact 
that Palestine was not an official nation-state, thus prompting the 
discontent that would become part of the impetus for the Al-Aqsa 
Intifada. Whereas footage of the famous handshake between Arafat 
and Rabin under Bill Clinton’s tutelage found its way into numer- 
ous documentaries, many post-Oslo Palestinian films, including 
several features, have dealt implicitly with ensuing Palestinian disil- 
lusionment and difficulties. Waiting (Rashid Masharawi, 2005), 
Checkpoint (Tom Wright, 1997), Ford Transit (Hany Abu- Assad, 
2002), Wall (Simon Bitton, 2004), and Crossing Kalandia (Sobhi 
al-Zobaidi, 2002) focus explicitly on checkpoints and the West Bank 
barrier/wall, while territorial fragmentation is a critical part of the 
storyline in Rana’s Wedding (Abu-Assad, 2002) and Divine Inter- 
vention (Elia Suleiman, 2002). 

OTHER, THE • 315 

OTHER, THE (1999). In this film, one of his last, Youssef Chahine 
launches an attack on the two forces he had come most to despise 
over the previous decade: a resurgent, intolerant Islamism, and the 
economic imperialism of transnational capitalism, exemplified by 
the United States. Adam, a half-Egyptian, half-American student 
is studying “terrorism” in the United States alongside his Algerian 
friend, Bouzid. After a meeting with Edward Said (playing himself), 
who preaches the universality of cultural and scientific advance- 
ment, Adam heads home to Cairo, where he falls immediately in 
love with a reporter, Hanane, who is trying to develop a story on an 
Egyptian entrepreneur. Dr. Essame. Essame is working with Adam’s 
extremely wealthy parents on a scam that proposes, but will not actu- 
ally build, an elaborate interfaith center in the Sinai. Hanane gradu- 
ally uncovers the crime, but she is kidnapped by her fundamentalist 
brother Fathi (portrayed as a hypocrite who yearns for luxury and 
wants to go to the United States), who has begun to collaborate with 
Adam’s fiercely— indeed perversely — possessive, U.S.-born mother, 
Margaret. At film’s end, Margaret’s conniving leads to the deaths of 
the young protagonists, who lie, hand-in-hand, covered in blood. We 
also learn that Bouzid has died in terrorist violence in Algeria. 

These youth are destroyed by intolerance for the “other” in an 
updated version of a theme that had long absorbed Chahine. In this 
instance, however, the film provides a clear metaphor for the way 
in which American foreign policy practices involving support for 
autocratic regimes serve to further political Islam, including its most 
intolerant manifestations. In interviews, Chahine spoke about the 
relationship between political disillusionment and the attraction of 
young people to extreme forms of Islam. Although The Other , an 
atypically straightforward melodrama, does not depict Islamist social 
provision or piety, it does depict some reluctance on Adam’s part 
to relinquish his class privilege, with recurrent images of jewelry, 
symbolic of decadence, throughout. Meanwhile, Margaret uses the 
pyramids of Giza as a means to feign a connection to Egypt that she 
does not really feel. Adam’s and Hanane’ s formal marriage is staged 
there, but their passionate, genuine love is explored, rather, in the pic- 
turesque deserts of the Sinai, where they quote nationalist poet Salah 
Jahin and dedicate themselves to each other and the country. 


OULAD SAYED, DAOUD (aka AOULAD SYAD) (1953- ). A phys- 
ics professor and photographer who studied briefly at the Fondation 
Europeene des metiers de T image et du son (“La Femis”), Moroccan 
Oulad Sayed makes films that utilize realism to present national-cul- 
tural portraits, particularly of individuals in search of self-identity. 
Tarfaya (2005) treats the issue of clandestine Moroccan immigra- 
tion to Europe through a focus on the solidarity of a nearly extinct 
village in which the population helps a strange woman who shows 
up one day with just an address and a determination to emigrate to 
Spain. Bye Bye Souirty (1998) is the bittersweet chronicle of an old 
man and his son on a quest for personal identity, while The Wind 
Horse (2001) is another journal of a search by two men for personal 
identity, told through the device of a road trip through Morocco on 
a motorcycle and sidecar. Oulad Sayed’s style, reminiscent of Jilali 
Ferhati’s, closely scrutinizes characters and is driven by images 
more than dialogue. 

OUT OF LIFE (1990). Director Maroun Baghdadi offers a claustro- 
phobic perspective on the Lebanese Civil War with the story of a 
French photojournalist, Patrick Perrault, held hostage by S h i ' i mili- 
tants. Inspired by photojournalist Roger Auque’s real-life account of 
his abduction, captivity, and release, Out of Life critiques reflexively 
the politics of representing the Middle East at war. Whereas Per- 
rault’s perspective focalizes the film, the Frenchman’s close contact 
with his captors enables them to be understood as victims as well as 
victimizers. The complicity of French policy is subtly referenced, but 
Baghdadi’s depiction of the war allows no room for heroics. Rather 
than sensationalizing the spectacle of war, the film deploys stylistic 
and symbolic techniques that emphasize typically unobserved un- 
dercurrents of war trauma and anxiety. This is exemplified in the 
opening sequence, when the intrepid photojournalist is kidnapped 
and blindfolded, thus both rendering him a helpless hostage and ob- 
structing the ocular superiority of his profession. Similarly, tracking 
shots of ravaged landscapes are juxtaposed with panning shots of 
undisturbed pedestrian life, which reproduces affectively the physical 
and psychological rupture of the city. 


OZPETEK, FERZAN (1959- ). Born in Istanbul, Ozpetek moved to 
Italy in 1977, studying film and art history in Rome, then serving as 
an assistant director during the early 1980s. His first film. Steam: The 
Turkish Bath (1997), received international acclaim at film festivals, 
but his status as a transnational director has been received with con- 
troversy in Turkey, where both Steam and his second film. Harem 
Suare (1999), have been accused of orientalism notwithstanding 
their limited deconstruction of that ideology. Such criticisms have 
been compounded by Ozpetek’ s homosexual intertext, which many 
Turkish critics associate negatively with Western influence, and his 
choice to reside in Italy rather than Turkey. Ozpetek is nonetheless 
regarded as an important director, well-respected enough to have 
been appointed jury chair of the 2005 Antalya Film Festival. 

- P - 

PALESTINE. The historic land of Palestine is located on the west 
coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in a West Asian region known as the 
Levant, or Fertile Crescent. To its north lies Lebanon, to its north- 
east, Syria, to its east, Jordan, and to its southwest, Egypt. Ruled 
by the Ottoman Empire from 1516 until the end of World War I, and 
populated historically by Arabs of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, 
and Baha’i religions, historic Palestine came under British Mandate 
between 1923 and 1948. In November 1947, the United Nations pro- 
posed to divide the region into two countries, one Zionist (Israel) and 
one Arab (Palestine), but the terms of General Assembly Resolution 
181 (the “Partition Plan”) ultimately were not satisfactory to either 
grouping, and on 15 May 1948, one day following the declaration of 
the Jewish State of Israel, a war erupted between Zionist forces and 
the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, which had en- 
tered Palestine to reinforce Palestinian irregular forces and the Arab 
Liberation Army (sponsored by the Arab League). The war ended 
in July 1949, with a Zionist victory that expanded Israel’s borders 
beyond those designated by Resolution 181, with the loss of more 
than 500 Palestinian Arab villages and the displacement of 750,000 


Palestinian Arabs across the region. Although hundreds of thousands 
of Palestinians became refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and 
neighboring countries including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, 
and many Palestinians stayed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a sub- 
stantial number also remained in what would become Israel; today 
these Palestinians are referred to as Palestinian-Israeli. 

There were no Palestinian film organizations prior to 1948, and 
hardly any Palestinian cultural institutions survived the Nakba. Only 
after the establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization 
(PLO) in 1964 did that organization become the institutional setting 
for Palestinian cultural projects, all of which occurred in exile, such 
as Palestinian Revolution Cinema. The 1967 Israeli Occupation 
was a turning point in Palestinian filmmaking, initially under the 
general leadership of Yasser Arafat in Jordan, then Lebanon, which 
developed into Palestinian Revolution Cinema. Prior to 1967, the 
Palestinian story was largely told by others: Israelis, other Arab na- 
tionals, foreigners. Thus, the Palestinian Revolution Cinema, which 
incorporates all Palestinian films made between 1967 and 1982, 
exposed a Palestinian story that had hitherto been concealed or at 
best misrepresented, depicting the nationalist struggle from within, 
yet in exile. 

The post-1948 Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) have 
been structurally dependent upon foreign aid: until 1967, the West 
Bank and the Gaza Strip were completely dependent on Jordan 
and Egypt, respectively; between 1967 and 1993, this dependency 
was directed almost exclusively toward Israel; and currently, to- 
ward Western donor countries and institutions, with a modicum of 
autonomy granted by the Oslo Accords, which facilitated a debt 
economy and a proliferation of nongovernmental organizations in 
the region. Reflecting this reality is the fact that, with the exception 
of Palestinian Revolution Cinema, financial assistance for Palestin- 
ian film projects has been meager. Jordanian, Egyptian, and Israeli 
control of the OPTs has also entailed restriction and censorship of 
Palestinian cultural expression, perceived as a threatening statement 
of nationalist sentiment against foreign or occupying forces. Thus, 
the only films produced by Palestinians were those filmed outside the 
territorial boundaries of the homeland. 


The 1980s and 1990s were intense periods of failure and accom- 
plishment in Palestinian politics, when the fight for independence 
reached its peak with the First Intifada and ensuing negotiations. 
Against this background, Palestinian cinema emerged in its con- 
temporary form— in the films of Michel Khleifi, with depictions of 
a forgotten or lost, idyllic past, and Elia Suleiman, portraying the 
events of exile that disrupted that past— attempting to construct a 
historical continuity of Palestinians in the context of political and 
psychological breaks. The initial Palestinian filmmakers (such as 
Khleifi, Suleiman, Mohammed Bakri, Nizar Hassan, and Hany 
Abu- Assad) were all Israeli citizens and thus, unlike their counter- 
parts in the OPTs, were able to study abroad or in Israel and obtain 
funding from non-Palestinian institutions. 

Contemporary Palestinian cinema has been driven by individual 
filmmakers wishing to address creatively Palestinian historical, 
political, cultural, or social issues outside the rubric of Palestinian 
institutional support. The lack of financial assistance did not change 
post-Oslo, as Palestinian Authority ministries charged with govern- 
ing cultural production have had little money and often suffered from 
nepotism, prompting most Palestinian filmmakers to seek financial 
assistance abroad. These conditions were exacerbated after the Al- 
Aqsa Intifada and peaked during the 2006 United States-backed 
boycott following the electoral victory of Hamas, an Islamist orga- 
nization. This, plus the fact that Palestinian films are often produced 
abroad due to military restrictions, such as curfews, roadblocks, and 
checkpoints, renders Palestinian cinema fundamentally exilic and 
diasporic, and at times transnational. 

On the one hand, this has also to do with the fact that, as an indus- 
try, Palestinian cinema still does not exist and is driven by individual 
filmmakers seeking funds transnationally. On the other, it is an effect 
of the historical and political reality of Palestinians: a people without 
a nation-state. Palestinian films generally present varied perspectives 
on the Nakba, Israeli Occupation, and other aspects of the conflict 
in the region, often standing to critique approaches by Jewish-Is- 
raeli films. They may address an idyllic past ( Wedding in Galilee 
[Khleifi, 1987] and, more nostalgically, The Olive Harvest [Hanna 
Elias, 2003]); the loss of land since 1948 ( Independence [Nizar Has- 


san, 1994], The Milky Way [Ali Nassar, 1997], 1948 [Bakri, 1998], 
and My Very Private Map [Sobhi al-Zobaidi, 1998]); difficulties 
faced by refugees (in the films of Mai Masri, Rashid Masharawi, 
and al-Zobaidi); life under occupation ( Curfew [Masharawi, 1993], 
Jenin, Jenin [Bakri, 2002], Arna’s Children [Juliano Mer, 2003], 
and Abu- Assad’s Ford Transit [2002], Rana’s Wedding [2003], and 
Paradise Now [2005]); or the loss of meaning that comes with exile 
and a fragmented life (Suleiman’s Chronicle of a Disappearance 
[1996] and Divine Intervention [2002]). The exilic and transnational 
nature of Palestinian cinema combined with the political chaos of 
the OPTs has meant that the exhibition and popularity of Palestinian 
films has been driven outside the homeland, into international film 
circuits, or film festivals dedicated primarily to Arab and/or Palestin- 
ian cinema. 

Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, production sites and companies that 
are nominally Palestinian-run have been set up in the OPTs by the 
Israeli film industry. These produce orientalist films directed by, 
and starring Palestinians, such as Thirst (Tewfik Abu Wael, 2004), 
produced by Zimaon Limited Partnership, and Al-Jisr: The Bridge 
(Ebtisam Ma’arana, 2004), produced by the New Israeli Fund for 
Film and Television. At the same time, exilic and diasporic Palestin- 
ian filmmakers such as Annemarie Jacir and Norma Marcos, as 
well as Masharawi, a Gazan refugee who runs the strictly Palestinian 
Cinema Production and Distribution Center, have often been dis- 
allowed entry into the OPTs either to shoot or screen their films. 

nization founded in 2004 in the United Kingdom, partly through 
the efforts of the School of Oriental and African Studies, the PFF 
coordinates Palestinian film festivals and seminars throughout the 
United Kingdom. 

PALESTINIAN REVOLUTION CINEMA. The entirety of the films 
produced by various Palestinian political factions between 1968 and 
1982 are often referred to as the Palestinian Revolution Cinema. No 
Palestinian film organizations existed prior to 1948, and hardly any 
Palestinian cultural institutions survived the Nakba. Flowever, after 
its formation in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) 


fostered cultural projects. The Palestine Film Unit (aka Palestine 
Films) was founded in 1968, in Jordan, through the support and 
patronage of Fateh, itself a party created in exile. Films were under- 
stood as symbiotic with political life and the Palestinian revolution, 
echoing the ideology of Third Cinema across the colonial and post- 
colonial world. The Unit ran under the motto, “a gun in one hand, and 
a camera in the other,” and was dedicated to recording revolutionary 

The majority of its films were conceived as pedagogical documen- 
taries providing counternarratives to the erasure of Palestinians by 
the State of Israel and the experience of exile and diaspora. With 
Our Souls, with Our Blood (1971) was the Unit’s first film. Docu- 
menting Black September, it represented a collective effort between 
director Mustafa Abu ‘Ali, camerawoman Sulafah Jadallah (shot 
and paralyzed during production), and cameraman Hani Jawhariya 
(later killed, camera in hand, during the Lebanese Civil War). Dur- 
ing this time, other Arab and foreign artists also made films about the 
Palestinian revolution, most famously Here and Elsewhere (1976), 
filmed in Jordan by Jean-Luc Godard at the invitation of Fateh. Go- 
dard purportedly donated his video camera to the Unit after complet- 
ing his film. 

After the PLO was expelled from Jordan in 1971 and moved to 
Lebanon, Beirut became the center of Palestinian filmmaking. The 
early years in Lebanon were the prime of Palestinian Revolution 
filmmaking, with over a dozen films made in 1973 alone under the 
auspices of various political parties, including the Popular Front for 
the Liberation of Palestine’s Committee for Central Information in 
1971; the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Artistic 
Committee in 1973; and the PLO’s Division of Artistic Education in 
1973. In 1973, however, all factions agreed to support a nonpartisan 
“Palestinian Cinema Group,” which only produced one film. Scenes 
of Occupation from Gaza (directed by Abu ‘Ali), after which the 
group disbanded. 

Much of the footage from this time came to be seen as a visual 
archive of Palestinian life, ranging from the only extant footage, shot 
by Jawhariya, of Palestinian refugees crossing the Jordan River as 
they were expelled from Israel after the Six-Day War, to scenes of 
dispossession in the Gaza Strip, and various scenes of life and revo- 


lution in Lebanese refugee camps. The films likewise documented 
military and fedayeen (guerrilla) actions, revolutionary events, and 
scenes of Palestinian resistance, and were screened in Lebanon and 
at international film festivals through the mid-1970s; the filmmakers 
also donated footage to foreign artists and made newsreels of them. 
Funding for films had come from the PLO and its constituent guer- 
rilla groups, with production eventually winding down and more 
or less ending by 1982. See also ISRAELI OCCUPATION; LOST 

PANAHI, JAFAR (1960- ). Bom in Mianeh, Eastern Azerbaijan, 
Iran, Panahi began writing and photographing at a young age. After 
serving in the Iran-Iraq War, he studied cinema in Tehran, mak- 
ing several short documentaries. He then worked as an assistant 
director on the last film in Abbas Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy, 
Through the Olive Trees (1994). Kiarostami wrote two of Panahi’s 
subsequent five directorial features. The White Balloon (1995) and 
Crimson Gold (2003), although his influence over style and subject 
is somewhat less marked in the later film. The White Balloon, how- 
ever, along with The Mirror (1997) feature children; the latter is also 
highly self-reflexive, as the lead character, a young girl trying to get 
home, decides halfway through the film to abandon it and actually 
try to get home! She is followed by the crew in a manner some- 
what reminiscent of Kiarostami’s Close-Up (1990) and referenced 
intertextually by the much later Tunisian film, Making Of (Nouri 
Bouzid, 2005). 

Panahi has spoken of these two films as his apprenticeship; his 
subsequent three features contain adult protagonists. The Circle 
(2000) is a formally audacious film that follows a series of women on 
the streets of Tehran, as each struggles to overcome various obstacles 
presented by an authoritarian patriarchal society. Crimson Gold is 
the story of Hossein, a pizza deliveryman whose job takes him to a 
variety of class settings. The film balances humor— as Hossein dis- 
tributes pizza to all comers when prevented from leaving the scene of 
an illegal party, or cavorts in the luxury penthouse of a client— with a 
darkly critical view of a hypocritical, class-divided society: Hossein 
eventually kills himself after a jewel heist in which he is involved 
goes wrong. Offside (2006), set and largely shot immediately before, 


during, and after the decisive soccer match against Bahrain, which 
qualified Iran for the 2006 World Cup, portrays a group of young 
women who dress as boys in order to enter the national stadium from 
which women are banned. Discovered by various means, they are 
sequestered outside the arena, just beyond sight of the action, and 
much of the film records their repartee with the young male soldiers 
who must guard them. The absurdity of their situation is emphasized 
when one of the captives, desperate to urinate, is forced to wear an 
Ali Karimi mask so as to hide her face from any (male) fans she 
might encounter in the toilets. Offside marks a departure from Pana- 
hi’s previous films in that its cinematography is more restrained, his 
prior partiality and aptitude for fluid camera movement as expressed 
in long-shots/long-takes largely abandoned. 

The Circle, Crimson Gold, and Offside are all banned in Iran, and 
since Panahi sees Iranians as his primary audience, this has caused 
him considerable regret; nevertheless, he is adamant about making 
the films that pursue his interests and avoiding self-censorship just 
to appease the country’s authorities. By the same token, Panahi, 
like Kiarostami before him, has emphasized that filmmakers face 
difficulties everywhere, and that censorship restrictions in Iran are 
just one instance of a global phenomenon. Although he has claimed 
in interviews that his films are not political, this would appear true 
only in the narrowest sense of the term; in addition to being compel- 
ling works of art available to a worldwide audience, they are in fact 
committed interventions into contemporary conditions in Iran. As he 
himself has indicated, Panahi’s treatment by United States immigra- 
tion officials when in transit at John F. Kennedy Airport in 200 1 (he 
was shackled for 12 hours and denied air transit through the country, 
presumably because of his nationality) reflects ironically on his hav- 
ing just been granted a freedom of expression award by the National 
Board of Review. 

PAN-ARABISM. Arab nationalism may be plotted along two intercon- 
nected tracks— the linguistic and the religious. Most Arab countries 
have established Arabic as their official language and Islam as their 
official religion, notwithstanding their significant ethno-religious mi- 
nority populations and their diverse political and economic systems, 
on grounds that Islam’s structural flexibility can help foster a unifying 


national and cross-regional identity in opposition to colonialism and, 
later, transnationalism. The pan-Arabist movement however, has 
historically deemphasized religious observance, and has encouraged 
open participation by non - A rabs-M u s I i m s . even while upholding 
ideas derived from classical Islamic philosophy, often adapted to be 
compatible with socialism. Since the end of the Cold War, however, 
and the increase in Western military and humanitarian activity in the 
Middle East, pan-Arabism has lost much ground to Islamism, which 
has proven a compelling ideological alternative for those seeking 
respite from autocratic regimes and alliances with Western powers 
seen as compromising to regional self-determination. 

Occasional calls for pan-Arab nationalism under the Ottoman Em- 
pire were not met with success following its demise, as the division 
of Arab lands between the British and French under the Sykes-Picot 
Agreement only further divided historically interconnected peoples. 
The most important figure in the movement since then has been Ga- 
mal Abdel Nasser, whose ascent to power in Egypt and successful 
defiance of Western powers earned him respect and a wide following 
throughout the Arab world and Soviet bloc. In 1958, under Nasser’s 
guidance, Syria joined with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic 
(U.A.R.); however, this pan-Arab formation lasted only three years 
before Syria left the union due to internal disputes over the character 
of its own professed socialism. Subsequent attempts to resuscitate the 
U.A.R., involving the possible inclusion of Iraq, never materialized, 
although the Ba'thist parties that then held power in Iraq, and retain it 
in Syria, were originally strong proponents of pan-Arabism. Nasser’s 
own prestige and that of pan-Arabism in general was severely dented 
by the loss of the 1967 Six-Day War against Israel, commonly re- 
ferred to simply as the Defeat. During the 1970s, Libyan President 
Muammar al-Gaddafi also attempted to unify the Arab states under 
the rubric of “Islamic socialism,” but with little concrete result. Sev- 
eral oil-rich, oligarchic ministates along the Arabian-Persian Gulf, 
however, affiliated to form the United Arab Emirates in 1971, 
largely in opposition to pan-Arabist and socialist efforts and with 
implicit Western support. 

Several films celebrate Nasser as a great leader of the pan-Arab 
cause: perhaps the most notable is Saladin (Youssef Chahine, 1963), 


the Arabic title of which, El Nasir Salah El Din (“The Victory of 
Saladin”), puns on Nasser’s name, explicitly relating him to the wise 
and tolerant leader of Arab-Muslim resistance to the 12th-century 
Crusaders, and firmly placing Arab identity above religion, while ne- 
glecting to mention that Saladin was in fact a Kurd. His subsequent 
The Sparrow (1973), made the year after Nasser’s death, is a record 
of the hubris, mismanagement, and corruption that led to the Defeat, 
but nonetheless includes a positive national allegorical figure who 
refuses to accept his resignation. 

In Syria, pan- Arabist filmmaking took place primarily within the 
state-run cinema sector, and is perhaps best exemplified by director 
Omar Amiralay’s first documentary, Film-Essay on the Euphrates 
Dam (1970), which celebrates a government-sponsored rural dam 
redolent of Nasser’s controversial Aswan project— a perspective 
Amiralay would soon recant in subsequent works. Pan-Arabism was 
also integrated into Iraqi filmmaking in the years leading up to the 
Ba'thist revolution and, subsequently, once the Iraqi film industry 
had been nationalized. The Lebanese film industry, also linked 
transnationally to the Egyptian industry, propagated its pan-Arabism 
structurally, by mimicking the Egyptian model and resisting the 
development of a truly national cinema, even while increasing the 
country’s cinematic output. Notable in this regard is the work of di- 
rector Ali Al-Ariss. By contrast, pan-Arabism has been represented 
negatively in Israeli cinema, for example, in Avanti Popolo (Rafi 
Bukai, 1986), while the Syrian The Dupes (Tawfik Saleh, 1973) 
offers strong criticism of the uneven support lent the Palestinian 
struggle by the Arab states. 

PARADISE NOW (2005). Hany Abu-Assad’s film follows two Pal- 
estinian would-be suicide bombers. Said and Khaled. Childhood 
friends living in Nablus, they receive word that their operation is 
scheduled in Tel Aviv the following day. Greeted by an extremist 
group leader, they perform their “martyr videos” beset by comical 
technical glitches, don black suits, and receive crew cuts. When 
separated at the border on the day of the planned attack, distrac- 
tions postpone the action long enough for a renewed questioning of 
their decision. Suha, a Western-educated daughter of a martyr, and 
Said’s love interest, challenges them but convinces only Khaled to 


change his mind. Said, driven by guilt over his father’s collaboration 
with Israelis and worried about his mother’s financial future, goes 
through with the bombing. The film gained Abu-Assad international 
recognition and a dose of controversy for its entry into the Academy 
Awards’ foreign film category under “Palestine” rather than “Pal- 
estinian Authority,” and for humanizing suicide bombers. See also 

PAYAMI, BABAK (1966- ). Born in Tehran, Payami grew up in Af- 
ghanistan, then studied cinema at the University of Toronto, becom- 
ing a Canadian citizen. After returning to Iran in 1998, he directed 
One More Day (1999), a feature about a prisoner’s leave. Payami 
then went to the Persian-Arabian Gulf island of Kish to shoot Secret 
Ballot (2001), about a woman who attempts to help the far-flung is- 
landers vote in the presidential election, and her relationship with the 
soldier who has been assigned to accompany her. Its long-shot/long- 
take aesthetic emphasizes landscape and the distance, both physical 
and psychological, between characters. The film met with censorship 
in Iran, as did its successor. Silence between Two Thoughts (2003), 
set in Afghanistan and shot just beyond the border in Iran, in which 
an executioner is ordered to marry his potential victim so that she 
will not die a virgin and hence go to heaven. Upon its completion, the 
latter film’s negative was seized by the Iranian authorities, although a 
somewhat compromised version, smuggled out of the country and re- 
assembled with the aid of computer files, was screened at the Venice 
Film Festival. Since these events, Payami has not returned to Iran, 
and instead has been working on English-language film productions 
apparently unrelated to Iranian issues or concerns. 

PHANTOM BEIRUT (1998). Ghassan Salhab’s first feature explores 
the disaffected subjectivity of postwar Beirut, characterized by fleet- 
ing encounters with phantoms from the past, and ever-present un- 
certainty about the future of Lebanon. Presumed dead for 10 years, 
Khalil is spotted by his old friends at the airport, a Lebanese para- 
digm of departure and return. They become enraged, since, unlike 
Khalil, they had stayed in Beirut to fight. When they confront him 
about his disappearance, his dispassionate emotional state provokes 
an intensified self-examination. Throughout the narrative, Salhab 


intercuts interview segments with the cast; these documentary mo- 
ments, positioned outside the story, bear witness to the experience of 
war and survival. See also LEBANESE CIVIL WAR. 


- Q - 

in Baneh, Iranian Kurdistan, Qobadi moved from photography 
into super-8 filmmaking before becoming second unit director on 
The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999) and a principal 
actor in Blackboards (aka The Blackboard) (Samira Makhmalbaf, 
2000) both set in Kurdistan. Kiarostami’s influence is less marked 
in Qobadi’s work than in that of Kiarostami’s other assistants, Jafar 
Panahi and Hassan Yektapanah, perhaps because, for Qobadi, the 
Kurdish people and heritage are so central. This is reflected in his 
feature film work and in the establishment of his production com- 
pany, Mij Film, dedicated to encouraging Kurdish culture. This com- 
mitment is new to Iranian cinema, and was indeed impossible prior 
to the period of liberalization following Mohammad Khatami’s 
election as president. Qobadi’s films focus on the struggle of an op- 
pressed people to survive and, as is appropriate to a stateless nation 
populating several contiguous countries — primarily Iran, Iraq, and 
Turkey— borders and border-crossing comprise a major presence in 
the stories and mise-en-scene of his work. Long-shots of the Kurdish 
countryside are balanced by images of the arbitrariness of borders. 
Indeed Qobadi’s first two films, A Time for Drunken Horses (2000) 
and Marooned in Iraq (aka Songs of My Homeland) (2002), both 
conclude with scenes in which the protagonists cross the snowy, 
barbed-wire marked border located high in the mountains between 
Iran and Iraq. These shots encapsulate much of Qobadi’s desire to 
bear witness to the traumatic history and to indicate the enduring 
hopes and struggles of the Kurds. 

In addition to depicting forced migration and the threat of chemical 
weapons, Qobadi’s films also utilize comedy. An example is Turtles 
Can Fly (2004), set exclusively in Iraq— although close to the Turkish 

328 • RAAD, WALID 

border— and the first film shot in that country following the fall of 
Saddam Hussein. Set immediately prior to, and at the start of, the 
Anglo-American invasion, much of Turtles focuses on an attempt to 
provide satellite television to a remote community so that its inhabit- 
ants may follow the progress of the war. The central character, a lo- 
cally influential teenager, is indeed known as Satellite, an appropriate 
but also ironic title for a boy who understands something of the local 
and transnational currents affecting his life but is ultimately power- 
less to change them. Half Moon (2006) was commissioned as one of 
seven films and many other international artworks as part of Vienna’s 
New Crowned Hope celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s 
birth. Shot in Iran, but set in Iraq, the film’s subject is the search for 
a female singer. Despite limited shots of women singing, the film has 
been censored in Iran— although this may also be due to a perception 
that it promotes Kurdish autonomy. 

- R - 

RAAD, WALID (1967- ). Born in Beirut, Raad left during the Leba- 
nese Civil War as a teenager to join family in the United States. His 
interest in photography and filmmaking led him to the University of 
Rochester, where he earned a Ph.D. in visual studies. On a return 
visit to Beirut after the war, he collaborated with Jayce Salloum on 
the experimental documentary. Up to the South (1993), which chal- 
lenges the simplistic representation of the resistance against Israel in 
southern Lebanon. Merging a propensity for artistic expression and 
an academic interest in critical theory, Raad created the Atlas Group, 
a semifictional archive committed to documenting the contemporary 
history of Lebanon. With particular interest in the wars between 
1975 and 1990, Raad’s installations, videos, and performances 
have transformed prevailing discourse on the “Lebanese Civil War” 
from a self-evident and closed category to an elusive multiplicity 
of narratives. He achieves this by inserting fictional characters into 
documentary representations of historical events, in order to chal- 
lenge the homogenization of Lebanese historiography and disrupt the 
perceived veracity of empirical facts and figures. The Atlas Archive 
is thus an alternative site of historical documentation, where a fic- 


tional historian has accumulated research on car bombings, gambling 
habits, and war era doctors and dentists — as chronicled in Missing 
Lebanese Wars (1996). Raad subsequently collaborated with the 
Visible Collective on I Feel a Great Desire to Meet the Masses Once 
Again (2005), which scrutinizes “extraordinary rendition” as a politi- 
cal strategy in the “war on terror.” 

RACHEDI, AHMED (1938- ). Born in Tebessa, Algeria, Rachedi was 
professionally trained in the cinema section of the Front de Libera- 
tion Nationale in Tunis, where he directed short films, newsreels, 
and documentaries, and participated in or directed collective films, 
most notably The Dawn of the Damned (1965). Director of the Of- 
fice national pour le commerce et l’industrie cinematographiques 
from its establishment in 1967 until 1971, Rachedi also acted as a 
producer for Constantin Costa-Gavras and for Youssef Chahine. He 
adapted Thala, a novel by Kabyle author Mouloud Mammeri, into 
The Opium and the Baton (1969), and directed a screenplay by Ra- 
chid Boudjedra concerning North African migrant workers in France, 
Ali in Wonderland (1978). This film reveals many aspects of Arab 
life in Paris for the first time, as it explores the French deportation 
of Arab workers and the workers’ views about being forced to leave. 
Since 1994, Rachedi himself has lived in Paris. See also BERBER; 

lished in 1962, the RTA’s aim was to promote cinematic develop- 
ment in Algeria through the training of film professionals, and, in 
time, to help fund co-productions with the state -run cinema organi- 
zations. Numerous RTA films, including Noua (Abdelaziz Tolbi, 
1972), Nahla (Farouk Beloufa, 1979), and those directed by Mo- 
hamed Lamine Merbah, were released theatrically, while a 16mm 
RTA feature directed by novelist Assia Djebar, The “Nouba” of 
the Women of Mount Chenoua (1978), was screened at international 
film festivals. The 1970s were a period of fruitful cross-fertilization 
between the RTA and the Office national pour le commerce et 
l’industrie cinematographiques. Resulting co-productions included 
Autopsy of a Plot (Mohamed Slim Riad, 1978) and Leila and the 
Others (Sid Ali Mazif, 1978). RTA resources were regrouped in 
1987 to form Entreprise nationale de productions audiovisuelles, 


headed by Merbah, which allocated funding to filmmakers and par- 
ticipated in several co-productions with the Centre Algerien pour 
l’art et l’industrie cinematographiques. 

(1925- ). Along with legendary vocal diva, Fairuz, the Rahbani 
Brothers became one of the most famous musical groups in Lebanon 
and throughout the Arab world. While working at the British-run 
Near East Radio in the 1950s, the trio combined Assi’s musical com- 
positions, Mansour’s poetic lyrics, and Fairuz’s distinctive voice in a 
manner that gained mass popularity. Assi and Fairuz married during 
this early period. In 1956, the group left Near East Radio in protest 
over the British attack on Suez, and began working with the Baalbek 
international festival. By the 1960s, Assi and Mansour became pro- 
lific producers of stage and television dramas and eventually collabo- 
rated with two Christian-Egyptian film directors, Youssef Chahine 
and Henri Barakat, on three films: The Ring Seller (1965), Exile 
(1967), and The Guardian’s Daughter (1968). The decision by the 
Greek Orthodox Rahbani Brothers to work with Christian Egyptians 
enabled them to develop a perspective both outside the framework 
of Lebanese nationalism and within an Arab Christian worldview, 
which offered a critique of Ottoman colonialism. Throughout their 
career, the Rahbani Brothers’ work consistently showed solidarity 
with the Palestinian cause. 

Hany Abu-Assad’s first feature, Rana, aged 17, is given an ultima- 
tum by her father: move with him to Egypt or choose a husband from 
his list of suitors. Challenging her father and Palestinian patriarchal 
society, Rana decides instead to marry her boyfriend, Khalil. With 
only 10 hours remaining until her father’s departure, and Khalil stuck 
in Jerusalem, Rana sneaks out of her house to navigate the Al-Aqsa 
Intifada landscape of checkpoints, house demolitions, and omnipres- 
ent Israeli soldiers and surveillance. When she finally reaches Khalil, 
her odyssey continues: as a minor, she must obtain her father’s 
consent in order to marry. In the end, Rana and Khahil are wed at a 
checkpoint, thus blurring the distinction between Palestinian private 


and political spheres. Rana’s Wedding is as much about bravery 
against a restrictive society as it is about dealing with the Israeli 
Occupation: Rana’s frustrated screams into a cellular phone cause 
a group of Israeli soldiers to point their guns at her while a handbag 
inadvertently left on a street corner delays traffic as a bomb-destroy- 
ing robot is sent to defuse it. 

RASOULOF, MOHAMMED (1972- ). Rasoulof was born in Shiraz 
and trained as a sociologist. He made several shorts before The 
Twilight (2002), a quiet study of Reza, a recidivist who is married 
in jail but, upon release, is unable to find even the most menial 
work to support his new family. Forced back into criminality, he 
is quickly reimprisoned. Although the film contains a darkly comic 
scene in which Reza argues with a guard over the desire to know 
the content of a turkey’s egg, its overall tone is deeply pessimistic, 
with characters who cannot communicate, and overtones of abuse, 
all reflected in the film’s harsh visual texture produced by some- 
times hand-held video. 

The documentary-like, realist aesthetic of these films is aban- 
doned in Rasoulof’ s visually alluring Iron Island (2005), a break- 
through work that screened widely at film festivals including Cannes, 
and which, like The Twilight, Rasoulof also wrote and produced. 
Captain Nemat is the firm but fair patriarch of a large, heterogenous 
group of people who live on an abandoned oil tanker in the Persian- 
Arabian Gulf. The ship functions as a minisociety, allegorizing as- 
pects of Iranian history, as the film alludes to several classic works 
in Persian culture, including Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh and, through 
its casting of Ali Nasirian as the Captain, to Dariush Mehrjui’s The 
Cow (1969). In order to raise money, Nemat has been systematically 
dismantling the ship, although he refuses to believe the ship’s school 
teacher, who warns that it will soon sink, until Nemat is forced to 
move his community in any case by the threat of eviction from state 
authorities. The film ends as the community gathers in the desert to 
hear Nemat describe the fine new town that supposedly will be built 
there — an optimism that seems largely unfounded. Rasoulof’ s subse- 
quent Head Wind (2008) is a documentary that discusses censorship 
in Iran, particularly of electronic media. 

332 • REALISM 

REALISM. Although realist films have been made both within and 
outside established film industries, their dominant aesthetic stands 
in contrast to the genre- and star-driven films typical of most such 
industries including Hollywood, but also, in the Middle East, the 
Egyptian, Turkish, and prerevolutionary Iranian cinemas. Whereas 
such industries typically emphasize escapism, realist films are more 
likely to emphasize everyday existence in a working-class milieu, in 
order implicitly or explicitly to critique social systems— including 
colonialism and its aftermath. They are frequently produced outside 
a studio and shot on location, adopt a long-take/long-shot cinemato- 
graphic style, and avoid unlikely happy endings. The Italian neoreal- 
ist films that appeared after World War II provided an alternative 
model from that of Hollywood— and “Bollywood”— for filmmakers 
and audiences worldwide, and have influenced Third Cinema move- 
ments, often far more radical than the original Italian films, including 
those in the Middle East. With regard to the Arab world, Tunisian 
director and critic Nouri Bouzid has argued that a realist cinema 
flourished after and in response to defeat in the 1967 war against 
Israel, which acted as “an alarm-bell that aroused the dormant Arab 

Realism in Arab cinema, however, effectively began with the 
Egyptian film Determination (aka The Will ) (Kamal Selim, 1939). 
This landmark was followed in 1945 by the less melodramatic The 
Black Market (Kamil al-Tilmissani). However, the combination of 
realist aesthetics with melodramatic conventions— and indeed, the 
use of stars— has been characteristic of much realist cinema in Egypt, 
including that of perhaps its two best-known directors, Youssef 
Chahine and Salah Abu Seif (an assistant on Selim’s film), both 
of whom made such realist films— many of them based on famous 
Egyptian novels — in addition to producing more typical studio fare. 
Chahine’s Cairo Station (1958) and The Earth (1969), Abu Seif’s 
The Thug (aka The Tough Guy) (1957) and The Water-bearer Is 
Dead (1977), and Shadi Abdel-Salam’s The Night of Counting the 
Years (1968) are exemplary. Although realist films were a significant 
presence in Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser, they became much 
less so during the 1970s, resurfacing after the assassination of An- 
war Sadat in 1982 in the wake of The Bus Driver (Atef El-Tayeb), 
in the work of directors such as Khairy Beshara, Ali Badrakhan, 

REALISM • 333 

Mohamed Khan, Daoud Abdel Sayed, and El-Tayeb, often referred 
to as the New Realists. 

With the exception of some films by Tawfik Saleh— and recall- 
ing Italian neorealist tradition— little of Egyptian realist cinema was 
explicitly political. Such was not the case in Algeria, where most 
of the early postindependence films that dramatized the liberation 
struggle (The Way [Mohamed Slim Riad, 1968]), as well as those 
that followed with a focus on agrarian reform ( The Charcoal Burner 
[Mohamed Bouamari, 1972], Noua [Abdelaziz Tolbi, 1972]) could 
be classified as socialist realism. This period of Algerian cinema has 
nonetheless also been criticized for avoiding the internal problems 
of the newly independent state, at least prior to the appearance of 
Omar Gatlato (Merzak Allouache, 1976), which focuses on the ev- 
eryday concerns of a young, disenfranchised urban male. Subsequent 
Algerian realist films include Nahla (Farouk Beloufa, 1979) and 
Children of the Wind (Brahim Tsaki, 1981). 

In Iraq, a wave of pre-Saddam Elussein auteur films, such as Sa‘id 
Effendi (Kameran Elosni, 1957), followed the Egyptian model. In 
Iran, socially critical and realist films such as South of the City (Far- 
rokh Ghaffari, 1958) and The Brick and Mirror (Ebrahim Golestan, 
1964) were followed in the 1970s by the two features directed by 
Sohrab Shahid Saless prior to his departure for Germany, A Simple 
Event (1973) and Still Life (1974), both of which eschew melodrama 
in favor of quiet observation. Somewhat similar aesthetics have been 
adopted since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 by many of the coun- 
try’s directors whose works have become hallmarks of Iran’s cinema, 
celebrated at international film festivals as the New Iranian Cinema. 
This neorealist model has been prominent and fruitful in the films of 
Abbas Kiarostami and many of those who have worked with him, 
including Jafar Panahi, Hassan Yektapanah, and Bahman Qo- 
badi, as well as in the films of Amir Naderi (The Runner [1985]) 
and in Samira Makhmalbaf’s later Blackboards (aka The Black- 
board) (2000). In some films, such as Majid Majidi’s Children of 
Heaven (1997) and Color of Paradise (1999), the realism is strongly 
tempered with melodrama. This especially influences the depiction of 
children, a dominant presence in so many Iranian films because direc- 
tors choose to avoid the pitfalls consequent upon restrictions placed 
on the depiction of adult relationships by the Islamic authorities. 

334 • RECEPiVEDiK 

The portrayal of impoverished children also characterizes many re- 
alist films from elsewhere in the region, notably the Moroccan Ali 
Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (Nabil Ayouch, 2000). 

Turkish Yepl^am films combined Western, three-dimensional, 
realism with two-dimensional forms derived from the Turkish tra- 
ditional arts. Some Ycsilcam films offer a “village realism,” as they 
focus on traditional feudal and rural social structures, but usually 
resolve moralistic ally in line with early Ycsilcam censorship. An 
exception is Hope (Yilmaz Giiney, 1971), described as somewhat 
similar to Italian neorealism in its focus on the system as a source 
of poverty. A Zionist realism was apparent in some of the earliest, 
prestate Israeli films directed by Ya’akov Ben-Dov and continued 
into the country’s postindependence industry cinema, but began to 
fade with the first wave of Young Israeli Cinema ( The House on 
Chelouche Street [Moshe Mizrahi, 1973] and was all but abandoned 
with the second wave. Realist aesthetics have, however, persisted 
in Palestinian cinema from its early, exilic origins in the documen- 
taries of Palestinian Revolution Cinema, which combined poetic 
with social realist aesthetics, to the contemporary fictional films of 
Rashid Masharawi, Hany Abu-Assad, and, most conspicuously 
perhaps, in Annemarie Jacir’s verite-like Like Twenty Impossibles 
(2003). The documentary aesthetics these films espouse, another 
aspect of cinematic realism, are evident, too, in many Lebanese 
films, especially overtly experimental works, such as Up to the South 
(Walid Raad/Jayce Salloum, 1993), but also in narrative features, 
for example Beirut the Encounter (Borhane Alaouie, 1981), A Sus- 
pended Life (Jocelyn Saab, 1985), and The Tornado (Samir Habchi, 
1992). Evidencing a similar formal hybridity are the Syrian films di- 
rected by Tawfik Saleh ( The Dupes [1973]), Samir Zikra, Oussama 
Mohammad, Abdullatif Abdul-Hamid, and Mohammad Malas, 
which combine aspects of neorealism and socialist realism. 

RECEP IVEDIK (2008). One of the financially most successful films 
of the new cinema of Turkey, this comedy is based upon the ad- 
ventures of its titular character, who was first introduced on Turkish 
television as played by §ahan Gokbakar. His younger brother Togan 
Gokbakar’s filmic version follows country bumpkin Ivedik as he 
travels from Istanbul to a Mediterranean resort hotel, where he en- 

REFiG,HALiT • 335 

counters his childhood love. Its episodic structure, comprised of short 
sketches, garnered the film heavy criticism as too televisual. Yet its 
importance as an indicator of the comedy genre’s role in sustain- 
ing Turkish domestic cinema cannot be underestimated, not least in 
light of its sequel, Recep Ivedik 2 (Togan Gokbakar, 2009), and the 
recent science-fiction comedy hits, also huge box-office successes, 
G.O.R.A. (Omer Faruk Sorak, 2004) and its sequel, A.R.O.G. (Cem 
Yilmaz/Ali Taner Baltaci, 2008), both featuring the stand-up show- 
man Cem Yilmaz. 

REEL BAD ARABS (2006). Reel Bad Arabs is the name both of a book 
written by Lebanese-American scholar, media critic, and advocate, 
Jack Shaheen, as well as its documentary film version. Published 
in 2001, and revised and updated in 2009, Reel Bad Arabs: How 
Hollywood Vilifies a People is a landmark study of stereotyping and 
defamation of Arabs in more than 900 Hollywood films from silent 
screen images to contemporary blockbusters. Shaheen’s volume ex- 
tensively reviews these films, almost all (approximately 94 percent) 
of which employ negative portrayals of Arabs, with detailed descrip- 
tions and critiques of each film alphabetically organized by title. The 
book argues that the majority of Arabs represented in Hollywood 
movies, no matter the genre, are of five basic character types: Vil- 
lains, Sheikhs, Maidens, Egyptians, and Palestinians. 

The 50-minute documentary adaptation of Reel Bad Arabs, di- 
rected and produced by Sut Jhally and distributed by the Media 
Education Foundation (which also produced Jhally and Bathsheba 
Ratzkoff’s Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land in 2004), 
vividly integrates clips of many of the most offensive screen portray- 
als, with critique offered by Shaheen. In 2008, Shaheen published a 
follow-up to Reel Bad Arabs entitled, Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict 
on Arabs after 9/11. Tim Jon Semmerling’s book, “Evil” Arabs in 
American Popular Film: Orientalist Fear (2006), is another study of 
the subject. 

REFIG, HALIT (1934-2009). Bom in Izmir, Refig trained as an en- 
gineer and was a film critic before serving as an assistant director. 
After directing his first film. Forbidden Love, in 1961, he began to 
make films that reflected his perspective, shared with Metin Erksan 


and Liitfi O. Akad, on the national cinema question. His 1971 book. 
The National Cinema Struggle, argues that non-Western aspects of 
Turkish or Ottoman culture, such as miniature painting and Sufi phi- 
losophy, should have specific articulation in films defined as “Turk- 
ish.” His Birds of Exile (1964), adapted by novelist Orhan Kemal 
from Turgut Ozakman’s play, dram